Zimbabwe has received its first ever Universal Electronic Payment System (UEPS) thanks to a local firm, SmartPay.
This will now put Zimbabwe among the nations with cashless transaction systems. Most of the local financial institutions and mobile telecommunications providers only offer mobile money transfer services.
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Speaking to journalists about the new system, SmartPay managing director Miriam Mutizwa said the new electronic banking concept aims at facilitating cashless transactions through a prepaid smartcard or debit card issued via retail and community agents. This will in turn create a branchless banking model, offered through the smartcard. The system is also expected to link the payment systems of all banks, savings and loan companies and building societies in the country.
The services that will be offered through the smartcard will include wage payments, pension payments, social grant payments, cash deposits, cash withdrawals, balance enquiries transaction lists (both directly from the card) and deposit without card. Additional services the system is set to provide include wallet-to-wallet transfers, money transfers between smartcards, third-party bill payments to registered, linked and once-off merchants.
Mutizwa said they have since extended invitations to partner with local financial institutions in Zimbabwe in utilizing the platform. She however noted that most of the invitations are still in approval stages with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to use the system.
According to Mutizwa, within the next six to twelve months, SmartPay intends to have reached a significant saturation point with regard to market penetration. At this point, she notes, the company would have set up at least 5 000 Point of Sale (POS) centres across the country, especially in the rural areas.
Users do not have to hold a bank account to transact via the new system. SmartPay’s main objective, Mutizwa says, is to provide infrastructure and technology for local financial institutions in Zimbabwe to advance their service delivery to their clients.