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Mobile money gains traction in Zimbabwe – despite regulatory wrangling

By , Sub Saharan Africa Business, Tech, News and Development Journalist
Zimbabwe , 08 Feb 2022

Active mobile money accounts in Zimbabwe – whose central bank continues to advocate a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) – now stand at 4.1 million, despite a 24% fall in transaction values in 2021 and regulatory issues between authorities and mobile money platforms.

Zimbabwe’s robust mobile money sector has been pivotal in pandemic and hyper-inflation periods.

However, industry regulation remains an issue with authorities in Harare having previously accused some mobile money platforms of being pyramid schemes used for illicit financial flows.

Despite the challenging environment, John Mangudya, governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), who tabled the 2022 Monetary Policy Statement yesterday, said “… the number of active mobile money subscribers increased from 4.05 million to 4,13 million.”

Mangudya added that digital transaction values “continued on the exponential growth trajectory with a 218% increase” in 2021.

However, “transaction volumes were on a declining trend, falling by 24% to 1.4 billion.”

Mobile money interoperability has gained traction. “The Bank is satisfied with developments on mobile money interoperability, which witnessed a steady upward trend in the figures, with average monthly growth of 21% and 16% in volumes and values,” said Mangudya.

This came as the central bank is “exploring the feasibility of adopting a Zimbabwean CBDC including specific design considerations, opportunities and risks to the monetary and financial” system.

At the same time, the central bank’s Fintech Regulatory Sandbox, launched in March 2021, has received 112 registrations on the online portal while a further 31 applications are at various other stages.

“Registered users came from various sectors with the largest share of users in software and systems development (48%), payments (18%), capital raising (7%) and investment management (4%),” said Mangudya.

The RBZ “expects to embark on regulatory testing with promising Sandbox applications” in the near future.

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