Stanbic Bank has today announced that their customers who use Econet to access internet services will not be charged to access the bank’s mobile app and other platforms. The services are now zero rated on the Econet network.
The bank will be paying for the connectivity costs associated with usage of their platforms. Stanbic Bank Head of Personal and Business Banking, Patson Mahatchi said
Customer centricity is of utmost importance to our business and in keeping with this key pillar, we have seen it fit to ensure that our customers are able to access essential services on our digital banking platforms at no data costs. Therefore, we now subsidize the internet service
Mahachi says that Stanbic is in the process of negotiating with NetOne and Telecel to extend the same zero rating to its customers on those networks.
The zero rated platforms are:
The SlydePay app is the app that Stanbic launched back in July for merchant payments using QR codes. At the time we expressed pessimism for its adoption. One of the reasons was that the app required connectivity to the internet for it to work. This development solves that problem.
There are still some hurdles to go over of course but it’s good to see Stanbic working to make things smoother for the adoption of their app.
Several times we have and a lot of other people have asked why we have not seen local banks pick up the tab for the data their customers use to access their online services. Our bet is that the network operators were not too keen to negotiate because MNO’s tend to think that their role is always to say ‘no.’
Does this development mean other banks will also be allowed to pay for their customers’ data usage? We definitely know that local banks trip over themselves copying each other so the demand side is obvious.
Can Econet still say no? How can they? They can’t be seen to play favourites and besides this is probably some good little bit of revenue that they were probably never going to get because very few people in Zimbabwe connect to the non WhatsApp internet.
Econet and the other operators to follow are probably charging much more than the users of these platforms can ever consume. How much data could you spend on a banking app?
Will we see non banks also being allowed to strike similar deals? We hope so! Techzim has always wanted to pay for its customers’ data consumption on its properties as I am sure a number of other businesses. (Don’t read this as a promise)
Some people will object to this on the grounds of net neutrality. The fact of the matter though is that the net is not neutral in this country as long as there is a thing called the WhatsApp bundle. WhatsApp has foreclosed the development of meaningful internet businesses and business models through the special access packages offered by MNO’s at the exclusion of the broader internet.
In my book, businesses paying for their customers’ access is probably the form of internet growth that Zimbabwe can afford for now. Network operators probably see this now and they will want to milk the opportunity. Things are different in Africa my friend….