Okay, we knew Zimbabwe went mobile when it comes to processing payments but $11 billion? In the time it takes for a child to be born? That is impressive.
The figures come from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and relate to the nine months from January to September 2017. In that time 485 million transactions worth US$11 billion were processed on mobile platforms.
Compared to the same period last year, there was a jump of 62%. That means the value of mobile transactions increased from around $6.79 billion last year to $11 billion this year.
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The cash crisis that we faced this year no doubt contributed to the increase as people were left with no choice but to adopt electronic transactions as the cash just wasn’t available. So as impressive as $11 billion sounds it is no surprise at all.
Now when they say mobile financial services we take that to mean mobile money platforms, mobile banking and Zipit. That is in line with what the Mobile Financial Services Working Group (MFSWG) gave as definitions. They say mobile financial services include both mobile banking and mobile money but the RBZ could have its own definition. You will understand why that definition is important later.
So to reiterate and put it simply, mobile financial services refers to the use of a mobile phone to access financial services and execute financial transactions.
The report also says that mobile money payments (think EcoCash) accounted for 81.2% of all electronic payment transactions last year in 2016, the percentage figure for this year is not yet available.
That percentage should relate to number of transactions and not value of transactions. Why? Because this year has seen even more usage of mobile money platforms and we can assume at the very least that that 81.2% was maintained. Now if that 81.2% refers to value of transactions, that would mean mobile money processed close to US$9 billion from January to September 2017.
Mobile money platforms cannot have processed over $9 billion in 9 months because the POTRAZ Q2 report shows that from April to June 2017, mobile money platforms processed just $835 million. That $835 million was the highest quarterly figure at that time meaning the first quarter 2017 had even less. For mobile money platforms to have processed $9 billion that would mean in just the third quarter over $7 billion was processed, which did not happen.
That means we can safely conclude that in the 9 months mobile money was responsible for more than $2 billion. It is impressive, especially for EcoCash which essentially is the Zimbabwean mobile money solution as it controls about 98% of that market.
The other takeaway however is that Zipit and mobile banking processed over $8 billion in 9 months. Zipit is a form of mobile banking but we just felt the need to mention it considering its popularity. Mobile banking mostly refers to only those with traditional bank accounts. It includes any electronic banking channels and instruments like internet banking, ATMs, POS terminals and the mentioned Zipit which allow access to financial services as connected to a bank account whilst away from the bank.
With the amount of times we have been swiping at POS terminals the $9 billion sounds about right.
We will repeat however that we dissected the figures using standard definitions of mobile banking and mobile money as given by the Mobile Financial Services Working Group (MFSWG.) The RBZ could be using its own definitions which would render this analysis incorrect.
That however does not take anything away from the impressive fact that US$11 billion was processed by mobile platforms in 9 months. Okay, USD and bond, it’s the same thing.