Mobile Money Arrives in Zimbabwe

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

Harare, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe, which has been very slow to uptake new technological innovations, is currently experiencing abuzz with the introduction of mobile money. For a long time, telecoms and mobile institutions have done very little to introduce new innovations. But a new trend is dawning in Zimbabwe as telecoms position themselves to explore mobile money transfer platforms as a supplementary revenue stream. Telecoms and banks are advertising the benefits of their products on a daily basis in local newspapers.

The volatile economic environment which has prevailed in Zimbabwe over the past decade largely contributed to the failure by telecoms and banking institutions to adopt mobile banking in spite of its power to reach far more people.

In East Africa, Kenya in particular, mobile money services have had a transformative effect especially to the unbanked low-income earners, who had been traditionally ignored by commercial banks. M-Pesa is regarded as a mobile money success story, and time will tell whether mobile will pick up in similar fashion in Zimbabwe.

The story so far is that in recent months, there has been a foray by telecommunication and banking institutions to establish mobile banking platforms. Examples of mobile banking products that have been launched include, Kingdom Bank’s Cellcard, Tetrad’s eMali, Econet Wireless’ EcoCash; CABS Bank’s Textacash, Interfin Bank’s Cybercash and CBZ Bank’s Mobile Banking among others.

CABS Bank’s Textacash and Interfin Bank’s Cybercash, which operate on Telecel Zimbabwe’s mobile money transfer platform. The system allows for transfer, receipt, depositing, withdrawal, inter- and intra-bank cash transfers among institutions connected to the ZimSwitch network. This has brought convenience and faster realtime transacting.

Expectations are high that mobile money will open up financial sector services to millions of unbanked Zimbabweans, particularly in the rural areas.

“The adoption of mobile technology is viral and the use of mobile banking services will quickly spread,” said Palmer Mugavha, Marketing Manager of Interfin Bank.

Undoubtedly, the rapid spread of mobile phone penetration, as opposed to bank outreach, has created a fertile ground for mobile money to grow in Zimbabwe. Mobile banking could be the platform for rapid financial inclusion of people in remote and rural areas that now only need mobile phones to access a certain range of essential financial services they never used to get.

“Mobile banking is largely a win for the customer than the bank. Banks traditionally had expensive distribution channels established in anticipation huge volumes of people would go there to transact,” said Tawanda Nyambirai TN Financial Holdings chief executive.

For people living in the rural areas, there will no longer be a need to travel to the city to withdraw money. Once they received a SMS confirmation that money has been deposited into their virtual account,they can visit the nearest farmer, supermarket, post office or non-governmental organisation that is in partnership with a bank or mobile company to collect their cash.

According to Econet, Zimbabwe’s leading mobile operator with more than 5 million subscribers, 500 Eco-cash agents will be deployed throughout the country. The company has also established partnerships with 200 post offices and 300 independent agents.

“You will not find a bank at every corner of the country, but, thanks to the extensive coverage we have built over recent years, mobile phone access has spread to virtually every corner of the country. Sending and receiving cash will now no longer take days, it can now be achieved virtually instantly,” said Douglas Mboweni, CEO

However, there is concern that EcoCash’s transaction fee are higher than normal bank charges, and this may hinder many people from utilising the mobile banking platform. According to a report in a local business weekly newspaper, the high charges may be stemming from the cost of going solo where the mobile phone operator incurs high IT infrastructure costs to set up the whole platform.

The costs of transacting is expected to go down as competition increases around the provision of mobile banking services. Besides transaction cots, security of the mobile money transactions platforms is any issue that telecoms and banks will have to grapple with. According to analysts, mobile payments fraud may include identity theft, stolen PIN codes, account information hacking, money theft, money laundering and subscription fraud, amongst others.

Overall, a mobile money literacy program will need to be rolled out to ensure the success of the innovation.

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AIDS: Wheregoes the Money?

JUST how much money are the recipients of AIDS funds putting into programmes that have a real impact on communities affected by the disease without hip- hopping around the world or engaging in endless AIDS workshops? It appears that unless there is serious public account of where exactly AIDS dollars are going, we are in for a long ride with the epidemic. Continue reading

Zimbabwe: Queues of Despair

If a Martian landed in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital today, he would certainly be taken aback by the length and number of human queues.

Like garden worms, the human queues twist and turn throughout the city, blocking traffic as people wait to get a chance to get money from their bank accounts.

The queues start early in the morning and last well into the night. As long as people think there is a faint chance to get a hold of their cash, they remain huddled in the queue.

If anything, human queues have become an additional indicator of the collapse of the Zimbabwean nation state, in particular, the financial system.

Due to a multi-billion percent inflation, the Zimbabwean government is no longer able to meet the paper money needs of its citizenry. Continue reading

Going Up the Career Ladder

In a corporate world that is increasingly over-crowded, highly competitive and ever-changing, getting a promotion can indeed be a hassle. But, through deliberate, well planned steps, and a willingness to take initiative, you can put yourself at the front of the line for a promotion.

First things first: If you keep yourself sheltered away from the attention of your bosses, you will always miss the opportunity to climb up the corporate ladder. A promotion typically means having more responsibility. So you have to position yourself as a person that has the aptitude, value and capability to meet the requirements of a potential promotion.

Develop career goals. You must be absolutely sure about where you want to go. Start maintaining a career journal where you write down your career goals. It’s important to make sure that the promotion is in alignment with both your credentials and personal goals.

Develop long-term, medium-term and short-term goals that will keep you grounded towards a career upgrade. If you find it difficult to envision, consult a career coach to help you develop a clear perspective of what you want to do. A coach will help to expand your vision and push you to function at your peak.

Do your current job well and more. If you want to make it to the top of the corporate ladder, do your current job well. Demonstrate honesty, empathy, trustworthiness and an ability to be a team player. See every challenge and responsibility as an opportunity to shine, and to sell yourself to your organization. Always review what you are currently doing and identify gaps that can allow you to do more. The surest way to get promoted is to do more and better than is expected of you. Show the value in yourself and create a demand for your abilities.

Make a contribution. Start right away to contribute ideas and suggestions to improve processes, practices and profits of your company. To grant you a promotion, your company has to be satisfied with your value. Get all the facts about your ideas. Having more information will increase chances of your ideas and suggestions being accepted, and put you in favor to get promoted.

Keep a portfolio of your work. You must maintain a portfolio of work contributions that are directly connected to the position that you seek. Never make an assumption that your bosses know what you’re doing. Without being big-headed about it, let your organization know of your accomplishments. Gain visibility with your current job successes.

Review job descriptions. Be clear about the additional responsibilities involved in the promotion as well as the salary level. In your career journal, keep job advertisements that underline the major duties or responsibilities of the job you want to promote in. Make a note of the qualities, attitudes and outputs required for that upward career opportunity. After you have identified these attributes, the next step is to put them into practice to prepare yourself for a promotion. Update your resume
Take time to review your current skills and accomplishments, including what you’ve learned in your current position. Update your resume so that it reveals your talents and hidden skills. Make sure your resume is specific to the potential career upgrade.

Remember: Highlight unique qualifications and background. A well-written resume can significantly improve your chances to landing a promotion. Develop your skills
Identify areas that need improvement: don’t just focus on your strengths. In your career journal, make a note of areas of weakness and strive to improve in those areas that are critical to your promotion. In an ever-changing business environment, you must constantly update your skills to enhance your chances to get promoted.
Consult and learn from experts in your field. Find out what they did to succeed, what they would do different, and steps that you can take to improve your chances of a promotion.

Take Courses in Your Field. Many companies require a potential candidate for promotion to have an advanced degree. Like it or not, having an advanced degree exponentially increases your chances to move to the front of the promotion line. Target unique qualifications. Read books, join a professional association, attend seminars and do courses that will build your knowledge, skills and abilities.

Market yourself. Make full use of every opportunity to sell yourself. If you’ve got it, flaunt it and don’t wait quietly for someone to acknowledge you. Make sure that you demonstrate your ability to hold a higher position with flair and confidence. Also, show how your past achievements have contributed to the growth of the organization. When it comes down to the selection process, make sure to put your best foot forward, just like you did when you were first hired.

Get networking right. If you want to fly like an eagle, then you have to stop taking lessons from chickens. Avoid co-workers and people that will pull you down through negative talk, and fill you with frustration over your desire to get a promotion. Associating with winners will fill you with a positive outlook on life and your career opportunities. Surround yourself with people that are success-oriented, and will encourage you to take the big leap forward towards a promotion.

Make yourself outstanding. There’s no doubt that polish and presence are critical ingredients for a promotion. Be open to new inputs and ideas. Become an expert in your field. Write articles or a book. Develop a dress sense that shows you are headed for the top.

Positioning yourself for a promotion at its most fundamental is an inside job. It’s a matter of finding what you want, and expressing that essence and character in everything you do. With hard work and an effective strategy, you can raise your stakes to get a promotion. So don’t let anything stop you.