FBC Bank has begun offering a MasterCard Prepaid service that enables locals to shop online across various platforms worldwide. In a campaign dubbed ‘Load & Go’ the bank initially introduced the campaign through the endorsement of local music icon; Oliver Mtukudzi, advertising the service’s access to leading merchants around the world. The bank is the first local financial services provider to advertise online payments as a value proposition. In effect this awareness campaign can aid local traders and entrepreneurs who have depended on Telegraphic Transfers and other cumbersome payment options when shopping online.
Unfortunately a number of international platforms such as
Amazon; Ebay; and PayPal which all surprisingly appear in the ad, do not accept online payments from Zimbabwe. Facebook is another online platform that does not allow Zimbabweans to enjoy the commercial benefits of being online as it is not yet possible for locals to advertise on the platform. This therefore complicates the online shopping experience of locals but can however be made up for by the open door policy of many other alternatives. A great number of entrepreneurs and traders locally have been sourcing various goods abroad and relying on cumbersome payment options like Telegraphic Transfers, which can be reliable but slow and tedious.
We expect the entrance of more players in the online payments arena to boost the local economy as these enable faster transacting, tapping into bigger markets, and usher in a plethora of possibilities for locals.TN Bank, Metropolitan Bank, and MBCA have been offering a Visa compliant service known as the ‘Cash Passport’ but have all failed to communicate the possibility of using this service to transact online. CBZ began offering direct Visa services in the build up to the World Cup and can also be found wanting in failing to communicate. It is yet to be seen if Econet Cash; an upcoming mobile payment service powered by TN Bank and similar to M-Pesa, will support international payments. While the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has ring fenced outbound transfers on a number of services such as Western Union money transfers, the inbound possibility of receiving money is still a very vital opportunity on its own.
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According to Agrippa Mugwagwa, the executive director for the bank’s retail and e-commerce division; “FBC Bank will be converting our existing customer’s proprietary FBC Bank cards into MasterCard branded debit, credit or prepaid cards. In addition, new customers will automatically be issued with a MasterCard card”. He went on to state that, “If there is a country with a compelling reason to go totally electronic as soon as possible, it is Zimbabwe. We are using the US dollar currency which we import at great cost, change is a nightmare, notes get soiled quickly and there is a high inherent risk of counterfeit notes.”
Jason Coetzee; the vice president of Business Development at MasterCard Africa was quoted as stating that “We believe that FBC Bank’s issuance of MasterCard payment cards will help reduce Zimbabweans’ reliance on cash.” Coetzee said growing the issuance of MasterCard cards throughout Africa is a primary focus and vision for the organisation.
Update: Contrary to a previous assertion, Amazon does in fact accept payments from Zimbabwe. Thanks to Fourwallsinaroom for pointing this out. We are working on a story that will pinpoint the platforms that accept/do not accept payments from Zimbabwe.