ZB Financial Holdings has signed a money transfer agreement with one of the largest international money transfer companies, Ria Money Transfer of the United States as part of its efforts to enable diasporans to send their cash directly to the financial institute.
Speaking at a Press luncheon last Friday in Bulawayo, ZB Financial Holdings group chief executive officer Mr Ronald Mutandagayi said the money transfer agreement with Ria, one of a number of products to be introduced by the bank in the last few months was a major milestone achievement in the country’s financial sector.
“We have signed a money agreement with an American firm called Ria. This is the first time any local finance institution has had a direct relationship with an American money transfer business. We are excited about that because it means that our diaspora in America will have a direct route for remitting funds to Zimbabwe,” he said.
Ria, a subsidiary of Euronet Worldwide is a global leader in the remittance industry. The bank is also working on introducing an international bank card following its removal from sanctions in 2016. It had been placed on American sanctions on 25 October 2008.
“Unfortunately a lot of things have changed in between in terms of international card issuance standards, investments that are required for one to be an issuer or an acquirer of international cards. We are currently in discussions with both Visa and Mastercard and our views are that we would like to insure that we acquire all the card issuer’s transactions including Union Pay International (UPI), which is the Chinese card issuer but we will issue cards to our market and in the near future you will probably be hearing from us as to how far we have gone with that particular product,” said Mr Mutandagayi.
The bank is also looking forward to launching a diaspora banking product. Following the establishment of the mono-currency monetary framework through Statutory 1 142 on 24 June 2019 the bank also launched Syfrets Bureau De Change last month.
“We have opened Syfrets Bureau De Changes, so far in the Midlands (Province) in Kadoma, Kwekwe and Gweru for the simple reason that there is quite a lot of foreign currency coming out of the small-scale miners. We will be going to areas such as Victoria Falls, Plumtree, Inyanga again because those are tourist resort areas and we expect that there will be reasonable traffic coming out of that,” said Mutandagayi.
The bank also pioneered the concept of onsite Bureau De Changes with one of the facilities located at Delta Beverages’ Kelvin North Industrial site factory in Bulawayo.
“We noticed that a lot of customers immediately after the change over on 24 June 2019 when mono currency was introduced some people were still holding on to foreign currency and they were in a quagmire as to how to use that. They would go to hardwares and wholesalers and discovered that the wholesalers were not selling in foreign currency and we decided to pioneer a product called onsite Bureau De Changes and it does have the blessings of the authorities,” said Mr Mutandagayi.
He said the financial institution would continue rolling out the onsite Bureau De Change in various parts of the country to improve convenience to the banking public. In order to remain connected with its clients, the bank has started offering its banking services through the “WhatsApp” social media platform.
“We have also launched WhatsApp banking. We noticed that a lot of the millennials are always on social media and it is obviously very frustrating for you if you want to perform a transaction to come out of your social media and then you perform a transaction and go back to your social media. With WhatsApp banking you are able to conduct your banking services while you are within Whatsapp,” said Mr Mutandagayi.
He said the bank was also involved in a number of training programmes particularly to impart young people with the requisite knowledge in financial management.
“We are also undertaking a number of training exercises with various partners to enable our younger generation to appreciate finances at an earlier age. We are dealing with an organisation called Imagination Africa where we partnered to deal with business level students where they look at case studies. Look at an issue and see how best that can be resolved and these are practical issues that we are giving them skills to deal with normal business issues as they happen,” said Mr Mutandagayi.