Michael Tome Business Reporter
CASSAVA Smartech banking unit, Steward Bank and Ecocash yesterday launched a platform where Econet mobile network subscribers will be able to open bank accounts through cell phones in a minute.
Codenamed *236#Bank the initiative aims to exploit mobile phone penetration which now stands at 11 million to grow financial inclusion using the mobile platform.
Riding on the competitive advantage of being Econet Wireless Zimbabwe subsidiary, the paperless Steward Bank account application will be accessible to more than seven million EcoCash subscribers whose Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements already exist in the EcoCash database thus have no need to resubmit identification details.
Speaking at the launch, Steward Bank chief executive officer Dr Lance Mambondiani said his bank could not afford to be left out in the ever changing world of technology, hence saw it fit to integrate banking with the mobile platform leaning on Econet Wireless countrywide network connectivity.
“As Steward we have competitive advantage that comes from our parentage, we are from a Mobile Network Operator (MNO) and as such we are going to address the problem of financial inclusion using the mobile phones. We thought if service sectors are now offering their products on digital platform why should banking be different? Trends all over the world are moving to a digital platform.
“We are born from an MNO and we understand the power of connectivity so everything we offer should be digital first, so as Steward Bank we want to make banking as simple and efficient as possible.
“With this platform we hope to bank each and every Zimbabwean no matter where you are as long as you have a phone just dial *236# and you will access an account,” said Dr Mambondiani. Included in the array of products launched by Steward Bank were instant loans Kashagi and Kashagi for Business. Both accessible through the mobile platform without collateral requirement, one only has to go through a tough psychometric test to access the loan.
“On the *236#Bank also you will be able to access an instant loan for different needs and the process of accessing the loan is under sixty seconds. We are going to offer loans without need for collateral but will be accessed after completing a powerful psychometric test that speaks to our market.
“Kashagi for business is something we developed in partnership with World Bank and a company called Lendol and it is going to be key in the development of the SME sector.
“So we are grateful to our partners and Lendol who assisted us in developing a credit algorithm that allows us to offer loans to small businesses and you can access it on the mobile platform,” he said.
The bank also launched personalised cards that identify with individual interests of mainly totem or landscape pictures on them.