The Sunday News
Thandeka Matebesi, Business Reporter
THE use of mobile and Internet-based transactions in remote areas has been on an upward trajectory with the generality of the country’s populace embracing modern modes of payment.
A snap survey in most rural areas of Matabeleland North Province revealed that most shops were now accepting mobile phone transactions, with a few also availing Point of Sale Purchase (POS) machines for customers to tender their payment.
Though the use of “plastic money” has over the past few years been embraced by the transacting public in virtually all urban areas, it has taken a while to convince the rural populace to accept that mode of payment in preference of hard cash.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CRZ) president Mr Denford Mutashu said most retailers in rural areas were now accepting electronic transactions largely due to the prevailing cash shortages in the country.
“We are quite happy about the penetration of mobile transactions as well as electronic transfers. Though we still have a long way in terms of electronic transfers we just hope that the situation will normalise as time goes by and the infrastructure improves. People in rural areas are happy to use plastic money and those in urban areas also find it convenient to send money via mobiles than through buses to their rural folk,” he said.
Mr Mutashu, however, lamented the absence of POS machines at most rural areas due to lack of adequate infrastructure.
“We discovered that there is very little to none transactions in cash. Almost 98 percent of all transactions are attributable to largely mobile and electronic. The reason why mobile transaction is so prevalent, common and convenient among the majority of the rural consumers is that the connectivity is far much better than the network infrastructure around the POS machine and the requirements and charges are many compared to the mobile phone and this makes it unattractive to some shop owners,” he said.
Econet’s Ecocash has become the country’s biggest money mover having transacted $11 billion between 2012 and June 2015.
As much as $23 billion has been transacted through EcoCash in the past six years.
According to the 2018 monetary statement the growth in the use of electronic means of payment was phenomenal and aggregated to $64, 7 million for six months ending June 2018, representing 216 percent increase compared to the same period last year. Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) constituted the largest contribution at 58 percent while mobile payments constituted the bulk in volume terms at 84 percent out of a total of 856 million transactions.