The concept of branchless banking in Zimbabwe is not new, however, it is continually on the rise. Ever since EcoCash more than 6 years ago, there has not been any other innovation that has come close to revolutionizing and transforming the money transfer sector like the rebirth of agency banking.
It’s no secret that the way we bank has gone through some major changes in the past era. The days of paper or plastic are slowly fading away as we move into the age of paperless or smartphone. While the way we pay for our items and check our account balance is changing, the way banks do business remains virtually unchanged.
MetBank has set its eyes on digitalizing its banks and drive its ‘branchless banking’ strategy. The bank has kept a branch footprint low but has grown its agent network to over 150 agents in and outside the country. A move which has created employment for several impoverished youths in the country.
Thanks to mobile banking technology and the growing obsolescence of physical branches, traditional banks face many of the same headwinds. To be sure, there will always be people who want to shop at a store, pinch the fruit, feel the cloth and chat with the clerks. The same is true for bank customers who will always want to deal with people at a branch.
MetBank’s Director of Group Corporate Affairs & Marketing, Shingai Koti, said the bank is pushing to “not only make visiting the branch unnecessary most of the time, but to ensure and guarantee that when one does it is a quick painless experience”.
Luckily, most banks in the country have done a better job than many retailers in adopting technology. Some have become market leaders in new technologies, while many traditional banks continue to thrive by focusing on customers who like the traditional banking experience supplemented with some technology.
When Techunzipped visited Metbank Harare’s main branch, which has been recently remodeled to meet world-class standards, which reveal international banks.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has said has that Zimbabwe has 40 000 agents providing financial services under a concept the central bank approved to promote financial inclusion. Latest statistics from the central bank show that the country has 35 000 mobile payment agents while there are over 3 000 bank agents.
Do you think branchless banking, by any chance, will pose a threat to conventional banking in the future?