We have received a much needed update from ZimSwitch on stuff they have been working on these past several months. The last time we covered ZimSwitch in some depth is when they announced the signing on of 12 financial institutions to their ZimSwitch Shared Services (ZSS). They also announced then that the company was working to launch an internet payment gateway to allow Zimbabweans to transact online by end of 2011.
The latest update explains further the ZimSwitch Shared Services platform; basically, a single point of connection for the financial institutions allowing them to offer financial services via mobile, web and to integrate seamlessly with service providers such as the utilities companies (ZESA for example), companies providing subscription based services like DSTV and merchants in general.
The update also goes into the different services that the platform will provide to financial institutions, local business and users of financial services.
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An important development to note, one that we noticed when FBC launched Mobile Moola back in June, is that ZimSwitch Shared Services are now mobile network agnostic, meaning users can transact from any mobile network. Remember when ZimSwitch first launched mobile banking services last year, bank customers had to migrate to buy a Telecel line to access the services. We’re not sure what this means for Telecel’s Skwama as it looks more and more out of the picture, so we’ll follow up on that.
Meanwhile, we are particularly excited about a new service called vPayments, which, you guessed it, is the Internet payment gateway ZimSwitch has been promising to launch for some time now. Just as confirmed last year vPayments is modeled on PayPal. The platform’s development is complete according to the update, and is expected to be made available by the end of September.
A mobile payments gateway has also been completed allowing merchants in Zimbabwe to accept payment via mobile phones. Think of it as something along Econet’s EcoCash Business but allowing you to make mobile payments from any network. This service, ZimSwitch says, will be available by the end of the year.
Here are the service updates we extracted from the information we received. Some of it is not new information, but let’s just have it all here together for easy reference:
- In addition to the 19 banks currently connected to ZimSwitch for POS and ATM inter-bank transactions, the following ZimSwitch members are now using the new ZSS interfaces: POSB, CABS, CBZ, Standard Chartered, FBC Bank and Building Society, Trust Bank, Bar-clays, ZB, Agribank, Metropolitan, Tetrad, MBCA and Interfin (currently off-line). Integration plans are in advanced stages with the remaining members.
- ZimSwitch Mobile is a shared mobile banking platform and USSD Gateway connecting our member financial institutions to all three MNO’s in Zimbabwe, namely Telecel, NetOne and Econet. The platform offers full USSD connectivity for banking related services as well as SMS and Direct Airtime functionality. The infra-structure has already performed over three million transactions since launch in 2011.
- ZIPIT – Stands for ZimSwitch Instant Payment Interchange Technology. Once ZIPITs have been enabled on a bank’s infrastructure, their customers can send funds instantly to any other ZIPIT Ready financial institution or ANY registered cell phone in Zimbabwe (Telecel, NetOne or Econet). Funds can be sent from any delivery channel – Mobile, POS, ATM or Internet. The ZimSwitch fee for processing a ZIPIT is currently set at twenty cents.
- ZIPIT to Bank – is a “High Volume, Low Value” transaction-set enabling the instant reflection of funds transferred from an account at one bank to an account at a different bank. The current transactional limit for a ZIPIT to Bank is $1,000 per transfer. ZimSwitch expects to have all ZimSwitch member financial institutions integrated onto the new platform in Q4 2012.
- ZIPIT to Mobile – Using this service funds can be transferred to any cellphone in Zimbabwe (banked or unbanked) and redeemed at any ZIPIT – Ready POS or ATM device. A new “agent-infrastructure” is emerging across Zimbabwe where cell phone owners who have been sent a ZIPIT transfer can redeem their cash.
- vPayments – Acquiring financial institutions will continue to hold merchant relationships as they currently do with the existing POS devices, but without the costs associated with a physical infrastructure.