I am here seating in my home office surrounded by some of the latest gadgets. Both my phone and my wife’s phone have the latest mobile banking apps from our respective banks. Personally I shun USSD and make extensive use of the Ecocash Data App whenever I transact. I am always tempted to think that’s what everybody does.
But I know better. That illusion is always shuttered when I go out and see just how many people do not use smartphones or have never bothered to install a banking apps from their banks for one reason or another. There is a good reason why banks always advertise their USSD codes while their mobile banking apps sort of take a back bench.
It’s hard to know how many people use banking apps on their phones. We can only estimate using stats from the Play Store and according to my estimate the number of people who use official banking apps from the various banks in Zimbabwe is 250 000 i.e banking apps from Zimbabwe’s banks have been installed 250 000 times.
My estimation job is made much harder by the fact that Ecobank and Stanbic have one global app that users from the entire continent can download and install. I have assumed both have around 10 000 installs from Zimbabwe based on their sizes and stats from comparable banks such as Stan Chart.
Before you scroll down to the comments section and start to berate me for using a flawed method to estimate the number of people who use mobile banking apps hear me. I know there are people like me out there who bank with more than one bank ( I use four banks) and thus have mobile apps for all of these so there is no doubt some double counting involved.
Then there are also people who install the app and never even bother to use it. That means the number of people who actually use banking apps as compared to say USSD is actually much smaller than 250 000. However 250 000 is not a totally meaningless figure. It gives us the upper bound i.e. the maximum number of people who use banking apps.
So which is the most popular banking app?
CBZ touch without a question. It is the most popular banking app by miles it’s not even a competition. They have 100 000 installs with Steward a distant second with around 15 000 installs. Given raw customer numbers one would assume that Steward should at least be close.
However the anomaly is not as inexplicable as it would first appear to be. One ought to consider the economic class of each bank’s clientele. From my own personal observation CBZ is quite popular with the civil service ( read middle class) and local corporates.
Not only will these people be in a better position to access smartphones on say loans from entities such as G-Tel they also have a sufficient number of bills from various services to an extent that they appreciate the need for a banking app to settle these payments.
Steward is quite popular with the informal sector. It explains why they were quick to see the value of things like Kwenga. Most of their clients are into cards and use USSD extensively mainly to send money to each other via ZIPIT and do bank to wallet (Ecocash) related transactions.
Here are Zimbabwe’s banking apps and their download numbers
- Ecobank over 1 million installs
- Stanbic over 1 million installs
- Steward Bank over 15 000 installs
- CBZ Touch over 100 000 installs
- Agribank over 10 000 installs
- FBC Mobile over 10 000 installs
- POSB over 10 000 installs
- Metbank over 1000 installs
- NMB over 10 000 installs
- MyCash over 10 000 installs
- CABS over 10 000 installs
- StanChart over 10 000 installs
- BancABC over 10 000 installs
- NedBank over 10 000 installs
- ZB Bank 10 000 installs
- First Capital over 10 000 installs
- NBS over 5 000 installs
NB I purposely ignored iOS here.