Mobile banking, e-payment increase financial accessibility

MOBILE banking and electronic payments have potential to increase access to financial services to smallholder farmers, low-income households and small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) in the country, says the Financial Sector Deepening Zambia (FSDZ).
FSDZ director Joanne Ledgerwood, however, said the advancement of mobile banking and electronic payments can only be achieved through infrastructure development and increased partnerships between financial institutions and mobile service operators in the country.
“We see mobile banking and electronic payments having the most potential to be truly game changers for increasing financial services to reach smallholder farmers, poor households and small enterprises but, a lot has to happen to make mobile banking a reality.
“There is need for greater infrastructure in the market, an enabling environment, partnerships between banks and mobile phone companies and the need to share agent networks particularly in rural areas,” Ms Ledgerwood said in an interview recently.
She observed that access to mobile banking and electronic payment services remain generally low in Africa, although efforts are being made by various countries to develop the platform, citing Kenya as a shining example in advancing mobile payment solutions.
She said Zambia is, however, making efforts in developing the electronic payment platform citing Airtel, Zoona and MTN as some of the players on the market.
“Mobile banking is not so big in Zambia but, we have seen an improvement in mobile payment solutions and a number of people utilising Airtel Money, MTN Money and Zoona,” She said.
Ms Ledgerwood said FSDZ, which is a Department for International Development (DFID) programme, will continue to work with stakeholders including Bank of Zambia (BoZ), financial institutions and mobile service operators to advance the platform in the country.
FSDZ was established in 2013 to provide assistance in the advancement of financial inclusion in Zambia through training and technical support.
The organisation, whose focus is on smallholder farmers, SMEs, micro-insurance, digital financial services and policy, information and financial capabilities, is also working with BoZ in conducting the 2015 FinScope survey, which will highlight the country’s financial sector and is expected to be released in March.
The last FinScope survey was released in 2009.

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