Zimbabwe: New bank account targets the unbanked

Jul 24, 2015

76% of the Zimbabwean population doesn't have access to banking services.

A Zimbabwean bank has introduced a new bank account aimed at boosting access to financial services to the unbanked.

In a statement, head of marketing at MBCA Bank Dedrey Mutimutema said: "We have now introduced the Basic Account to improve financial inclusion in the economy."

She added that the bank is looking to expand its product range to become more inclusive and provide financial services to the unbanked, with the bank's basic account catering for all individuals with a monthly income of $300 or less.

"Our Basic account clients enjoy almost all transactions at discounted prices," she said, adding that account holders can also shop using their debit card.

According to figures from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, 76 per cent of the Zimbabwean population is unbanked.

However, mobile banking is increasingly filing the gap, with paperless transactions through mobile devices and the internet reaching $1.3 billion (€1.2 billion) in Zimbabwe in the first quarter of the year, according to statistics from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. This represents a year-on-year increase of $930 million.

"People now understand the convenience of mobile payments and internet transactions and the market is set to continue growing," said economist Dr Gift Mugano.

"It is quite exciting to see mobile service providers coming in with this new innovation which helped to kind of bank the unbanked which the traditional banks have failed to take care of," he added.

The volume of money transfers through mobile phones in Zimbabwe increased by 80 per cent in 2014. Mobile phone penetration is at the new record level of 90.3 per cent.