Last year the Reserve Bank approved the adoption of agent banking by financial institutions as part of efforts to increase access to financial services. With 67 percent of Zimbabweans living in the rural areas, there is huge possibility for financial institutions to increase their presence in the traditionally marginalised market.
National Building Society (NBS) will this year introduce banking agents in its network by the year end ,as the financial institution taps into the unbanked by bringing financial services to the consumer’s doorstep.
Speaking on the side-lines at a media briefing , NBS managing direct Mr Ken Chitando said the bank will start by introducing 19 agents across the country and by year end will also be inviting private players to apply as agents as the year progress.
The agents provide banking services on behalf of banks, like payment of school fees, cash deposits, cash withdrawals, bill payment and balance enquiry.
The agents will be complementing NBS’ existing brick and mortar branches that are mainly in urban areas.
Speaking to Techunzipped , the founder of online classified website Deepleague , Mr S Moyo said the model will increase accessibility of financial services to the formerly side-lined and help financial institutions tap new customers and reduce costs.
Agency banking utilizes a network of local merchants and shopkeepers, in areas where NBS usually doesn’t have a presence, to provide basic banking services. In other cases, the agents can be right across the street from a NBS branch to handle the overflow of customers so that they don’t have to wait in line for a teller. The agents are equipped with POS machines, a portable device that connects to NBS bank accounts.
Aside from easing traffic in our urban branches, agency banking has great potential to reach people in the more remote and rural areas of the countries we serve.