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A few years back, I witnessed my uncle taking medication for his Tuberculosis, The pills were so many, I was disturbed. Long after my uncle was gone, as I was conversing with my doctor friend, I discovered the pills had been consolidated, one had to take just one pill a day and they will be home and dry.
The sight of my uncle taking all those pills so many years ago is still fresh in my mind. Even though I may not know anyone suffering from TB now, the fact that people no longer take a bunch of pills to cure themselves offered tremendous relief to my still troubled mind.
Why the story of Tuberculosis Pills on Techzim?
I remembered the TB pills as I was pondering the concept of one stop shops recently. Before one stop shops were established, one had to roam around collecting different items just to make one meal. And the roaming in one way or another would frustrate customers and a frustrated customer is difficult to retain in most cases.
It is with this same idea in mind (I think) that Steward Bank decided to consolidate their diaspora services into one app. Imagine the scenario where everyone who has a question , inquiry, query have to call, email and/or visit the bank physically just to have their issue sorted? The process is or was rather tedious. Of course the experience is worse if you are beyond the borders of Zimbabwe but you want an answer/solution to your burning issue.
The Square World App is tailor made by Steward Bank to answer this very question for the diaspora market. The app acts as a one stop shop for all Steward Bank services that are open to the Diaspora Market.
You don’t need to have a Steward Bank account to use Square World
From the app home screen you can simply swipe right to access services that don’t require you to be logged in or even to hold a Steward Bank account. This essentially makes the app a utility app for any Zimbabwean in the diaspora whether or not they hold a Steward Bank Diaspora account.
As the screenshot below shows, you can pay bills for Zimbabwean utilities like ZESA, water, internet, Kwese…. without the need to log in. The second thing you can access is the Mortgage Calculator. We will touch on that one briefly a little later.
The app allows you to check how global currencies are trading against each other or to do a quick conversion. Useful when you want to travel to a country with a different currency to the one you stay. Unfortunately, you can’t find Bond Note rates there, remember the official position is that the bond note is not a currency.
You can also access the Steward Bank customer service bot, Batsi without needing to be a customer first as well.
Ok, did I say mortgage?
The leading offering from Steward Bank to the diaspora market is of course the 2% p.a interest mortgages. The deal keeps getting sweeter, you can even get a loan at 0 deposit. This is not open to everyone so you can chat with Batsi to find out who is eligible and who’s not.
So, because mortgages are the biggest selling point, Steward Bank allows you to do a quick math using Square World without logging in. You can use the app to check how much maximum loan you can get from Steward Bank given your salary level.You can also use the Mortgage Calculator to check what your monthly repayment installments would be.
Of course, you can only apply for a mortgage after you open an account with Steward Bank. And what do you know? You can open the account right on the app itself!
The Square World app is allowing you to do what they are calling selfie banking. When using the app to apply for a bank account, you don’t have to get passport size photos taken first (I don’t know why banks insist on this). Just use the app to take a selfie which will accompany the application form you fill on the app as well as other supporting documents like ID and proof of residence.
If you are not a Steward Bank customer and you do not wish to open an account with them you can access the menu on the right and access functionalities that allows you to pay bills, buy airtime and access the currency converter and the mortgage calculator. The menu is shown down there and you can navigate there without the need to be a Steward bank Account holder.
What you can do in the app if you have a Steward Bank Diaspora Account
Apart from the usual stuff one expects to do on a banking app, Square World has other interesting features:
Send money home
You can remit funds to Zimbabwe using Cassava Remit, World Remit or Hello Paisa. You can do this right from the app using your VISA or MasterCard or a transfer from your other bank account in the country you reside.
Those who are not familiar with the term: round or mukando is a group saving practice popular across Zimbabwe and other African countries. Members of the ‘saving club’ contribute set amounts regularly to a pooled ‘wallet.’The savings will then be distributed among group members after a set period. This Square World app is just allowing the automation of this practice and to avoid the risk associated with appointing a treasurer.
Similar to mukando, the kanzatu nzatu feature in the Square World app draws from an enduring Zimbabwean custom. This is a crowd funding platform where people can contribute towards a cause or a mission. I remember seeing a BBC story about Zimbabweans and other African nationals in the UK who are getting paupers’ burials because relatives back home cannot raise funds to repatriate their deceased relative. This could be one such situation where kanzatu nzatu could help. The community in the diaspora can chip in and assist.
USD when you travel home
It’s important to mention that Steward Bank Diaspora account holders can withdraw USD when they travel home if they have been funding their accounts with forex. This is not really about the app but I know there could be some well warranted skepticism about opening a Steward Bank Diaspora account and using the Square World app and only failing to access your money in the form that you deposited it when you make that trip home. Don’t worry, you won’t have to navigate the precarious Zim currency situation.