Government is working on refining regulatory frameworks that govern mobile banking activities, to improve the administration of the sector, an official has said. Mobile banking refers to any system that enables regular banking services through a mobile phone. But many of the mobile banking initiatives are partially – in some cases wholly – led by non-bank organisations that are traditionally outside the scope of financial regulation, and with whom the financial regulator has traditionally had little or no contact.
This has naturally led to concern that the lack of clear regulation in the sector could lead to abuse of the system by operators.
The Deposit Protection Corporation, which is charged with refunding depositors in failed registered deposit-taking institutions including commercial and finance houses, has in the past raised concern about the continued use of the Banking Act to regulate mobile banking activities in Zimbabwe.
And, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) acting director general Baxton Sirewu said the current regulatory set-up was not ideal and was being reviewed to improve the administration of the sector.
“The operator today, that is the mobile banking operator, has got one leg in the financial field regulated by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and one leg in the telecoms sector regulated by ourselves, but for co-ordination purposes we meet quarterly with the RBZ to address any regulatory gaps that maybe found or weaknesses that may be found in the system,” he said.
“This matter is being addressed, we are continuously improving the way mobile services are provided and are regulated in Zimbabwe.”
Since the adoption of multiple foreign currencies in 2009, Zimbabwe has witnessed a proliferation of mobile banking systems modeled on the one used in Kenya called M-PESA.
The three mobile operators in Zimbabwe – Econet, Telecel and NetOne all offer mobile banking services.
The introduction of mobile banking services in Zimbabwe has helped reach out to the previously unbanked population. – New Ziana.