While other Western banking institutions look like they are scaling down in their operations in Africa (think Barclays and their much-publicized exit), Standard Chartered are going somewhat against the current. The bank says it is launching a mobile and online banking platform in Zimbabwe and seven other countries on the continent.
Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia will also be part of the roll-out, which is said to be targeting 1 million users who are currently banking with StanChat.
Banking on the continent has in general been difficult terrain during the past two years, as growth by African economies mellowed due to – among other things – falling demand for commodities from countries such as China. The IMF recently cut its 2016 growth projection for sub-Saharan Africa by 1 percent to 3 percent,
Embracing mobile is thus seen as an innovative move of sorts, in an industry that can easily seem to be at odds with – and threatened by – innovation, especially the mobile kind.
With Zimbabwe facing all sorts of macroeconomic challenges, and a banking sector that is certainly not too far from struggling, it is interesting that StanChat are in any sense bullish about their prospects down here. Looks like someone has observing from outside the stand-alone, impressive performance by the leading mobile money operator in the country, EcoCash, and now wants a piece of the cake too.