The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
THE Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has called on the banking sector to continue rolling out development trainings that will see staff taking up new roles to avoid layoffs, as the sector continues to embrace digital transformation.
This comes as at least 321 bank workers were retrenched between 2020 and 2021 while a further 119 are set to be laid off this year according to statistics released early this year by the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (Zibawu).
With digitalisation which is the use of digital technologies, this has also heightened digitisation; the process of converting something to digital form. Commenting on the need to reduce layoffs, BAZ chief executive officer (CEO) Mr Fanwell Mutogo said banks were carrying out tailored in-house trainings.
“Indeed, some bank staff and branches are reduced as a consequence of heightened digitisation. However, in some instances these workers are redeployed to other areas that still need human interface. Banks do have tailored in-house training and development departments, hence trainings are provided to their staff to move along and adapt to the ever-changing environment,” said Mr Mutogo.
He said as BAZ they also offer Continuing Professional Development Courses (CPDs) to the sector, a combination of approaches, ideas and techniques that will help bank workers manage their own learning and growth. Mr Mutogo said these were learning activities professionals in the sector had to engage in to develop and enhance their abilities.
In terms of digitisation strides that have been made by the sector, he said: “The banking industry has made significant strides in as far as digitisation is concerned and the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the digitisation agenda. Customers can now bank in the comfort of their homes or offices through enhanced digital transactional platforms introduced by banks.”
Mr Mutogo said some of the platforms included unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) platforms, WhatsApp banking, internet banking and point of sale (POS) machines among others. He said these digitisation efforts have made it possible to pay bills such as electricity, municipality, education fees, groceries and airtime just to name a few in the comfort of one’s home or office.
“Banks will continue to accelerate the digitisation strategy with the main aim being to provide seamless digital financial solutions to both corporate and individual clients. Digital banking departments have been seized with automation and improvement of end-to-end customer journeys, including digitalising the customer account opening processes,” added Mr Mutogo.
He said among other benefits digitisation has allowed customers to open accounts digitally and transact without the need to visit the branch or interact with the bank’s staff. Meanwhile, a number of financial services firms around the country have said they will continue with their digitalisation drive as transactions on digital platforms keep gaining traction.
This has also seen banks registering growth and recording billions worth of transactions as the market continues to embrace digitalisation, which has also been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Globally, the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions accelerated the digitalisation trend that began in the late-1990s but was facing slow adoption. The prolonged pandemic-related lockdowns prompted millions of men and women to change how they paid for groceries or paid a utility bill.
This moved from in-person, cash-based payments — which in the pandemic context were viewed as unsafe and unsanitary — to digital payments made directly from an account (whether making a direct transfer, using a credit or debit card, or paying with a mobile money account).