HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsProduct Review: SmartCash card-based account

Product Review: SmartCash card-based account

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As part of its ongoing activities, the Monthly Financial Sector Bulletin (MFSB) monitors new product initiatives and rates them according to set criteria, namely: novelty/innovation, inclusivity, cost effectiveness/affordability, versatility, convenience, job additiveness, collaborativeness, tech-savvy, synergistic capacity and scale.

Omen Muza

The product which meets most of the criteria or ticks the highest number of boxes becomes the product of the month. The main objective of this initiative is to not only recognise, but also to promote product innovation in the financial services sector while helping the banking public to understand new products.

In December 2104, for the first time, we had two products of the month — Econet’s EcoSure Funeral Cover and CBZ Bank’s SmartCash Account. In this instalment, we discuss how CBZ SmartCash measures up to the MFSB rating criteria with a score of 7/10.

lIs this the first time a card-based account is being offered in Zimbabwe?

A card-based account has been offered before in different forms by the then Kingdom Bank Limited (now AfrAsia Bank) under the CellCard brand and by Tetrad Investment Bank under the e-mali franchise. What, in our view, sets CBZ SmartCash apart is the diversified bundle of features that it boasts of and the ease with which the account is opened.

Does SmartCash promote
financial inclusion?
CBZ Bank has a deliberate policy on financial inclusion or inclusive financing which it views as “the delivery of financial services at affordable costs to sections of disadvantaged and low-income segments of society”. This is why it says it has deliberately launched the SmartCash account for people that were previously excluded.

lDoes SmartCash reduce or eliminate the cost of delivering financial services?

One of the features of the CBZ SmartCash account is that it does not attract maintenance and service fees, making it a truly affordable account at a time when bank charges are the bane of many an account holder. From the bank’s side, the card-based model enables it to deliver its bundle of products and services at a cheaper cost than it would be able to achieve through the branch channel.

Is SmartCash for international use as well?
The utility of the CBZ SmartCash account in its current form can only be enjoyed in Zimbabwe. Given the in-person application process for the account at a CBZ Bank branch for purposes of positively identifying the applicant, those in the Diaspora will have to wait a little longer before they can enjoy this product.

Does SmartCash enhance convenience?
CBZ Bank has set out to make the opening of a SmartCash account as simple and convenient as possible with a virtually paperless process that delivers an “instant” account. “Opening a CBZ Bank account just got easier! One simply needs to walk into any of our over 60 branches with their ID, opening deposit of at least $5 and in
5 minutes they will walk away with a bank account and a CBZ SmartCash debit card,” says the bank. This, coupled with the bundle of features such as access to mobile banking, a bill payment facility and airtime top-up (own & third party) enhances the convenience of the account.

Does SmartCash save jobs or create employment?
CBZ SmartCash is designed to drive customers more towards self-service channels such as POS terminals, ATMs and Mobile Banking; that is, away from physical branches, which may in the long term threaten the viability of branches leading to loss of employment. This product does not, therefore, create direct employment, but actually tends to threaten it. The redeeming feature is probably that CBZ Bank has to invest significantly in human resources working on its ICT systems to ensure superior uptime for its e-channels on which SmartCash relies.

Does it feed/leverage on partnerships?
CBZ Bank would not have been able to achieve a sizeable footprint of touch points for SmartCash without partnerships with the likes of ZimSwitch, the merchants who house its off-site ATMs and POS machines as well as its mobile banking partner.

Does SmartCash make effective use of technology?
CBZ SmartCash’s value proposition is premised on an amalgam of POS technology, ATM technology, mobile banking technology and switching technology (ZimSwitch/ZIPIT), so its tech-savvy credentials could be said to be unassailable.

Does it integrate well with other products?
The MFSB sees the main role of CBZ SmartCash as that of integrating the bank’s various value propositions (such as POS terminals, ATMs and Mobile Banking) under a card product that is affordable and easily accessible.

Can SmartCash potentially impact on meaningful numbers of Zimbabweans?

With a network of over 60 branches, over 5 000 CBZ and ZimSwitch POS machines and SmartMoney (the bank’s mobile banking offering), this product can potentially impact on a significant chunk of the banking population, considering that the bank is looking beyond its existing customer base to anyone with an ID and a desire to own a bank account.

Feedback: omen.muza@gmail.com. You can view Omen N. Muza’s LinkedIn profile at zw.linkedin.com/pub/omen-n-muza/30/641/3b8

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