HARARE – Listed financial services group, FBC Holdings (FBC), has so far deployed 7 000 Point of Sale (POS) machines around the country in a drive to promote the use of cash-lite transactions, an executive with the bank said.
FBC chief executive John Mushayavanhu last week said despite operating in an extremely difficult operating environment, the group had carried out a POS disbursement drive in light of Zimbabwe’s acute cash shortages which have plagued the country for the better part of the last two years.
“The environment has been pronounced by forex availability problems, cash challenges, and downward pressure in lending rates…
“However, as a group we have continued to deploy more POS machines, to date we have over 7 000 POS machines that we have deployed countrywide,” he said at a recently held Annual General Meeting.
This loosely gives the group about 10 percent market share of all the POS machines presently in the market following central bank data indicating that the POS population rose 18,3 percent in the first quarter of 2018.
“The POS population increased to 70 960 in the first quarter of 2018, from 59 939 in the fourth quarter of 2017, in line with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s new thrust of promoting electronic means of payment,” the apex bank said in its Q1 report.
As a result of the cash shortages, Zimbabweans are being forced to conduct the majority of their purchases through electronic means with the 2018 Monetary Policy statement reflecting that more than 96 percent of the $97,5 billion transactions processed last year were through electronic and mobile banking systems.
RBZ data indicates that POS machine demand has surged over 60 percent as Zimbabweans warm up to electronic transactions on the back of acute cash shortages as local banks have received an increase in POS machine applications from clients, especially those in the informal sector.
The central bank is also moving to review electronic transaction fees downwards to promote cash-lite payments.
In most informal transactions, traders have grouped to share POS machines for the ease of transacting.
RBZ governor John Mangudya recently said in the wake of pressing cash shortages, the apex bank was working on a raft of measures to promote the enhanced use of plastic and electronic money.
While there has been a lot of lobbying for Zimbabweans to dump a cash-based system in favour of cash-lite transactions, uptake has been low with market watchers pointing out that the reason the transition is slow is because the country’s infrastructure is not equipped to deal with a surge in e-payments.
This also comes as treasury last year announced it was moving to scrap off a five percent tax presently being levied on Point of Sale and electronic transactions, as part of efforts to promote the use of cash-lite payments.
As part of these measures, Zimbabwe has also removed import duty from POS imports to assist the country boost its weak POS infrastructure.
Meanwhile, Mushayavanhu said FBC was performing ahead of budget and performance for 2017, with the group focusing on its micro-insurance unit to drive insurance revenue.
— The Financial Gazette