Local banks were relatively late adopters of m-commerce but despite this some of these institutions have managed to make remarkable progress even in the face of steam rolling competition from the likes EcoCash and other MNOs with their huge subscriber bases.
Textacash, launched by local building society CABS, is a mobile money solution for the bank’s extensive client base and for other potential customers keen on experiencing the advantages of mobile money integrated with ZIMSWITCH services.
We managed to get information from CABS officials on how Textacash has been faring in the past year and since the last time we took a close look at the service it has shown some growth. This is commendable considering the challenges being felt in the banking sector which have had an effect on services like mobile money.
As of the end of April 2014 the Textacash subscribers total stood at 306, 000. Quite impressive considering that in the first quarter of 2013 CABS had 200, 000 traditional banking clients and another 75,000 exclusive to the Textacash service.
Textacash has approximately 500 registered agents added to CABS network of 67 branches nationwide. While this pales in comparison to the agents and merchant figures being brandished by Telecash and EcoCash its worth noting that these figures signify what is probably the largest network from any other financial institution involved in mobile money.
The agents network has contributed handsomely to CABS’ revenue. In the last financial period non-interest income for the building society increased by 13% due to an (undisclosed) increase in transactions made through delivery channels like Textacash.
The issue of agents is always a big deal for any mobile money service. While Textacash has had the advantage of rolling out through an existing retail bank network and smartly through retail outlets that are on ZIMSWITCH, this area will always act as the biggest factor for market penetration and growth.
The Textacash pool account also made a 30% growth in deposits, indicating Textacash’s role in diverting funds from an unbanked, informal economy into the formal banking system.
Like every other mobile money service Textacash has had to levy the state designated 5c tax on every transaction which has meant a minor adjustment to their tariff schedule to accommodate this.
According to CABS, new product development is in place to strengthen the Textacash offering and accommodate customer needs. It will be interesting to see what sort of value will be unlocked by the financial institution and their mobile money service and whether it will be able to maintain growth and a positive trajectory in this space.