Zimswitch Technologies is one of the most important companies in Zimbabwe’s economy right now. The business helps you and I to navigate everyday life seamlessly through their payments integration platform.
The Zimswitch Evolution
One thing they have managed to do over the years has been to evolve with the economy and every new reality in Zimbabwe. When they launched in the mid nineties the service I was most aware of (maybe because I was a kid then) was that they allowed one to withdraw from any member bank’s ATM using any other member bank debit card.
As the use of debit cards grew I started associating Zimswitch more with point of sale swiping. Their infrastructure made it possible for any debit card in Zimbabwe really to be used in any store in Zimbabwe regardless of the bank that issued the POS payment machine. It’s easy to take this integration for granted but imagine for a few seconds how grocery shopping would look like without Zimswitch especially now when cash is super rare.
Cash problems in Zimbabwe actually brought to the fore the ability of Zimswitch to adapt, evolve and solve new problems. Zipit was introduced to facilitate more real time processing of transactions between banks. The service is more real time than the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system itself!
The problem with evolution is that by definition it is not noticeable. You only see how things have changed when you look in the rear view mirror. This is definitely the case when you trace Zimswitch from the mid nineties up to now. As conditions changed, their offer changed and we never got to feel how much more adverse some of the stuff we’ve been through could have been.
The Zimswitch backstory makes them qualified to convene a payments conference as they are doing in Victoria Falls from the 3rd to the 5th of May.
The event’s theme is “Sustaining digital payments in Zimbabwe and opening a gateway into SADC.” It will be interesting to know what conversations will be going on around sustaining digital payments in Zimbabwe.
The obvious one which I expected and was glad to find on the programme is interoperability. This is important if digital payments are going to go beyond where we are right now. Already Zimswitch provides an interoperable platform and API’s that other services can use to integrate Zimswitch services into their own.
Just a few banks in Zimbabwe are not available on Zimswitch. Two of the three MNO controlled mobile money services already have a relationship with Zimswitch and will be attending the conference.
Part of the theme talks of opening a gateway into SADC. That this is important is a no brainer really. Our individual economies in SADC are small and fregmented. The region gains much the more we integrate. The original objectives of SADC were economic more than political. Fighting apartheid in South Africa was predominantly going to be achieved through economic means. The region is thus more of an economic block than a political one especially after the fall of apartheid itself.
Making payments easy and seamless between member states is crucial if the potential economic activity across the block is to be realised. Technology innovation and creativity by organisations like Zimswitch within member states can and will open up the region for growth.
Be Part Of The Zimswitch Payments Conference Through Techzim
Techzim is proud to be live streaming the event so you can follow the conversations and even interact with the delegates there. We will have the live stream available here on our site and on our social media pages as well. We invite you to tune in and participate as much as the delegates there.
We mostly look forward to the participation of developers and tech entrepreneurs because the issue of payments is super important for this group of people.