Globally, financial inclusion programs have revolutionized the dreams of billions of low-income populations formerly excluded from formal financial services and provided paths for significant chances to access a broad variety of financial goods and services.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe developed the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) phase 1, through a consultative process to provide strategic direction and to systematically accelerate financial inclusion initiatives in Zimbabwe, which was officially launched by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development on 11 March 2016. This was a 5-year program which came to a close in 2021 and RBZ is currently putting in place a framework for phase 2 which is set to run for another 5-year period.
For Zimbabwe, this is a significant step towards establishing an inclusive financial system that allows previously unbanked and underserved Zimbabweans to participate economically. New technology and communications infrastructure have accelerated financial inclusion activities significantly, since the introduction of the NFIS program. However, despite global and local tendencies towards greater financial inclusion, major hurdles persist, particularly for some groups of the population.
As part of the endeavours to reduce barriers to financial inclusion, FINSEC and other stakeholders have strengthened their attention on consumer protection and financial literacy. Despite the enormous efforts of capital market regulatory agencies, the current uncertain macroeconomic conditions have continued to slow down the uptake of capital market products and services and access to capital markets for low-income groups.
The introduction of technology to streamline and smoothen some of the procedures has seen a considerable increase in the levels of retail investor engagement on the capital market. As the first and only exchange to employ cost-effective and easy daily technologies such as mobile and web gadgets to ease initial application and secondary market trading of shares, FINSEC was able to launch a successful Initial Public Offering (IPO) for retail investors. The C-TRADE platform, an innovative local solution for mobile and online trading of securities, is completely integrated into the FINSEC platform, which continues to push the frontiers of technology.
It is FINSEC’s goal to be accessible to investors of all sorts and to promote the use of technology to increase investment opportunities. In order to raise money, issuers of securities are also urged to take use of the retail market. This would not only diversify shareholder bases and decrease concentration risk but also supports active engagement of individual shareholders in the activities of the firm. It is possible that the owners of these companies/entities are also customers of the goods and services provided by these listed entities, which might result in economic benefits for these companies/entities.
Through FINSEC’s involvement in educational and financial literacy activities, retail investors are projected to trade more often and for larger sums of money in the next months and years. User friendly delivery channels like mobile and online platforms, as well as retail specialized measures like lower trading limits and decreased transaction costs, should be used to attract retail investors in any economy.
FINSEC believes in creating a culture of saving and investing and mobilising local savings and resources for growth of the economy via investments in productive sectors that drive economic activities. As a platform for raising funds and increasing assets, FINSEC will continue delivering new solutions to issuers, investors and market players and will remain a key player in the financial inclusion agenda.
The Financial Securities Exchange (FINSEC) is a Zimbabwe registered securities exchange and a member of the Escrow Group. The Escrow Group has interests in the financial services and technology sectors. Corpserve Registrars and Escrow Systems are the other members of the group.