E-payment firms urged to service rural areas

FINANCIAL services and mobile payment providers have been urged to provide services that cater for the needs of rural communities, unlike the current trend where the products are mainly concentrated in urban areas.
According to the 2014 World Bank economic brief on financial services for Zambia issued recently, there has been limited access to the services by rural consumers.
“While there have been positive developments in Zambia, most service providers still need to develop products and services that cater for the unique needs of the rural, low-income market and not just compete for the small group of corporate and high-end clients in Lusaka,” the report states.
The report notes that Zambia still lags behind in the uptake of electronic payments, citing Kenya as one country in the region that is advancing the e-platforms.
World Bank says it is important for commercial banks and mobile money providers to partner to ensure a smooth roll-out of mobile and e-payment solutions in the country.
The report says there is need for the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health to utilise e-payment solutions to disburse funds to vulnerable communities under the social cash transfer programme.
“Currently, 60,000 households in 18 districts are benefiting from bi-monthly transfers and these transfers are in cash [form]. Funds are transferred to a bank in a district [and] picked by teachers who later disburse it to the beneficiaries – this is not only costly, but is also time-intensive and insecure,” the report states.
The report also states that promoting e-payments in the agriculture sector can contribute to the efficient disbursement of payments to farmers.

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