In March this year, we wrote that Telecel was working with ZimSwitch Mobile to include more banks on its mobile baking platform. Then, Telecel said they were concluding agreements with ZimSwitch and would be launching the service soon, starting with two local banks CABS and POSB.
This week, we received communication from ZimSwitch that the ZimSwitch Mobile platform will be rolling out to the first wave of ‘ZimSwitch Ready’ banks this month and that more banks will follow “hot on their trails”.
The communication we have says the ZimSwitch mobile platform will enable all financial institutions locally to offer mobile banking services to their customers. The services will use a technology called Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) which is available on GSM networks like those by Econet, NetOne and TelOne. The technology can work on any basic GSM mobile phone.
The platform will also launch with a new service called ZimSwitch Instant Payment Interchange Technology (ZIPIT). The service is a fund transfer mechanism that enables banked individuals to send money instantly to any other ‘ZIPIT Ready’ bank. ZIPIT, ZimSwitch says, will work like the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system, only with ZIPIT everything will be done via basic mobile phones and the transfer will be instant.
Without disclosing exactly how this will work, ZimSwitch also said that ZIPIT will enable banked mobile subscribers to send money instantly to any cell phone in Zimbabwe. For now we are assuming this means the recipient will also be a banked individual, and banking with a ZIPIT ready bank.
ZimSwitch hopes this will help “change the way Zimbabweans view the finance sector, and bring the nation back to the banks”
The ZimSwitch contact did not mention if this is the same platform they were working on in partnership with Telecel in March or if it’s a new initiative altogether. The network neutrality with ZIPIT however suggests ZimSwitch probably extended the service to the other mobile networks. We will be finding out more in the coming days.
It will be interesting to know how this service compares to other mobile banking services launched this year by mobile operators and banks. In January, Telecel launched Skwama in partnership with Kingdom Bank. NetOne has launched OneWallet, which we wrote about earlier today, and Econet, the largest telecoms firm in Zimbabwe, has announced that it will be launching a mobile money service by the end of this month.
ZimSwitch is a third party transaction processing platform used by some Zimbabwean commercial banks. It was formed upon the signing of a partnership agreement of 8 local financial institutions in 1994, to facilitate the shared use of automated teller machines (ATM’s) and point of sale (POS) facilities throughout Zimbabwe.