Happiness Zengeni in Pretoria
Financial technology company MyBucks parent company of the soon-to-be listed GetBucks Zimbabwe has said it will not open physical branches in Zimbabwe but will embrace mobile banking in order to reach the unbanked population of the country.
MyBucks is a fintech company that delivers financial services through technology. MyBucks is a Luxembourg-based company and incorporates brands: GetBucks, GetSure and GetBanked.
Country operations include eight African countries – South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, Swaziland — and two European countries – Poland and Spain.
Chief executive Dave van Niekerk in an interview with The Herald Business in Pretoria on Monday said Zimbabwe presents an excellent opportunity for the company to unfold its mobile banking strategy by following a virtual banking model.
“The technological opportunity in Zimbabwe is several-fold what it could be in markets elsewhere in the region. It is a good market with great infrastructure and the people are well educated and that means they understand technology. So I think very quickly we will make inroads using cell-phone banking; people will be able to take loans online.
“With our branch network, which is already strong and the virtual bank model we are going to be serving a lot of customers. The idea is that banking must be easy, cost effective and we must be able to do stuff quickly and efficiently,” said Mr van Niekerk
Recently GetBucks Zimbabwe non-executive director George Manyere said the company is currently sitting on 20 000 plus customers but hopes to take up a commanding share of the estimated over one million bankable but untapped market.
Growth will be underpinned by new innovative products such as the signing of companies as a strategy to reach employees, a growing loan book which increased 88 percent this year at $11 600 480 as at the end of June. The loan book grew by 389 percent last year.
Mr van Niekerk said unlike traditional banks which focus mostly on corporate clients the model of micro-finance firms being able to take up deposits was more focused on the “working man.”
“A lot of the banks focus mainly on corporate clients but the whole point of micro-finance institutions being able to take up deposits and lend is really about the working man. . . the bottom half of the pyramid. That man must be able to have access which is effectively free. The big focus is to bank him, look at his account and give him credit at the same time giving him tailor made products such as insurance.”
Mr van Niekerk’s comments came after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe this week announced it had issued GetBucks a deposit taking licence.
MyBucks director Mr Tim Nuy said generally banking in Africa was more expensive but the group’s objective was to make it more accessible and as cheap as possible by making use of technology.
The group will also leverage on its partnership with global company Opportunity International.
Last year, Opportunity International a next generation microfinance organisation that invests philanthropic and social impact capital to spark and scale innovative solutions to global poverty, entered into a share purchase agreement to sell six banks serving sub-Saharan Africa to the MyBucks Group.
Mr Van Niekerk said MyBucks will recapitalise all banks to accelerate growth and support banks in tapping capital markets to raise debt and capital.
“In Zimbabwe we are going to leverage on the partnership with Opportunity International to promote agriculture lending particularly in the small holder sector,” he said.
GetBucks Zimbabwe last week closed its initial public offering to raise $3,2 million. The IPO was underwritten by former bankers DBF Capital who will take up shares if the offer is not fully subscribed.
“DBF will take up some of the shares. . .it was always intended for them to take up some of the shares. We are actually happy for them to be a shareholder considering their experience. We are a high-yielding dividend stock so it was quite attractive for them to take up the underwriting job.”
Results of the initial public offering will be made public by Thursday while GetBucks Zimbabwe will list on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange on Friday.