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Zim's cash crisis pays off for Cassava Smartech

By , Journalist
Zimbabwe , 16 Jan 2020

Zim's cash crisis pays off for Cassava Smartech

ZSE-listed Econet spin-off Cassava Smartech has benefited from the increased popularity of digital transaction platforms in Zimbabwe.

Banks are not able to meet depositors' demands for cash which is fuelling the popularity of electronic, mobile money and point of sale transactions.

According to Cassava Smartech's latest trading update released today, Charles Banda, company secretary for Cassava Smartech, said: "Transactions processed on our mobile money platform increased by an average 19% (for the nine month period to end November) while the number of active customers also increased by 17% in the same period."

The Fintech and e-commerce firm also holds the Steward Bank digital finance institution, whose customer base increased by 75% during the same period. The bank has also seen increased uptake of debit cards.

However, the Bank recorded a decline in transactions on its Point of Sale terminals by an average of 46% during the period, according to the trade update.

Cassava Smartech said this trend was "commensurate with declining volumes in the retail sector as consumer disposable incomes fail to keep up with inflation."

Cassava Smartech also runs EcoSure, a micro insurance offering rolled out through mobile platforms and which for the period under review had a 17% growth in life policies.

Banda added: "The macroeconomic environment over the nine months under review has continued to be operationally challenging, characterised by subdued consumer demand as a result of the continued depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar, a re-emergence of hyper-inflation, erosion of disposable incomes, high unemployment and chronic power outages."

Despite the challenges, Econet managed to raise volumes across its categories.

In a separate trading update, the company affirmed that voice usage was 20% stronger, data 26% stronger and SMS 7% higher for the same period.

"The company has grown its market share driven by volume growth in voice minutes, data and SMS traffic. This is reflective of the strong demand in the market," Econet said.

According to industry regulator, the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook account for a higher percentage of data usage in Zimbabwe.

Mobile operators in the country have been drumming up investments into 4G network roll-out.

Econet recently discontinued its post-paid platform owing to economic challenges and has joined other operators in lobbying Potraz to approve a tariff increase.

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