The uptake of Point of Sale machines has exceeded the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s expectations because of a 20 percent increase of POS devices in circulation. POS machines increased from 56 000 to 70000.
The drive to have 100 000 devices hinges on the government’s objective to increase financial inclusion by having a cashless society.
The cash shortages have forced people to spend hours at banks queuing for money and several small businesses across urban areas are still requesting the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to increase the number of POS devices so that they do not lose business.
RBZ governor, John Mangudya said:
We are very happy with the phenomenal increase of the POS machines to 70 000 to date from around 56 000 at year end last year…. We are on course to obliterating our 2020 POS machines target of around 100 000 given the increased uptake of transacting machines by retailers and individual dealers
Steward bank has been known to be the leading bank in offering POS machines so we expect that its share of POS devices has grown even more as a result of the introduction of their portable POS device, Kwenga last year.
Anyway, the increase of POS devices is good news to RBZ because its goal to have 100 000 devices may come sooner before 2020. RBZ thinks that if this feat it is achieved, the cash shortages would vanish and there will be ease in doing business in Zimbabwe. But it’s not the cash crisis nor is the shortage of POS devices that has been making it hard to do business, it’s just a matter of bad economic policies.
Currently, over 95 percent of retail transactions are being conducted electronically as the nation seeks to sidestep the biting of physical cash shortages in the economy. And this 95 percent has helped to carry out 368 million transactions. The governor went on to say:
Of the 371 million transactions carried out in the first quarter of 2018, 368 million transactions were POS and mobile payment transactions…. This indicates that 95 percent of our traders have now embraced plastic money, which is what we wanted when we launched this initiative
Last year, the RBZ went as far as to cap transaction costs on POS devices at 10c for purchases below $10 so as to increase the use of POS devices. So this decrease in charges is, in turn, increasing the use of POS devices and their demand as well.
In this particular sphere, RBZ is doing a great job. Kudos to you. Still, it should not neglect to fix the cash shortages because there are some transactions that need cash only such has commuting with a kombi. People are obtaining cash for these cash-only transactions by paying a premium to “money changers”. At the end of the day, the benefits of increasing the number of POS devices would be somewhat offset by the cost of accessing cash for cash-only transactions.