The Nexus between Mobile Money Regulation, Innovative Technology and the Promotion of Financial Inclusion in Zimbabwe

Keywords: mobile money, mobile money services, financial inclusion, unbanked persons, regulation

Abstract

The advent of mobile money innovations has given people in rural areas, informal settlements and other poor communities an opportunity to participate in Zimbabwe's mainstream financial economy. However, the technology-driven money services have presented some challenges to the traditional banking sector in general and the regulation of financial services in particular. Firstly, most mobile money services are products of telecommunication corporations, which are not banks. Telecommunication companies use their network reach to provide mobile money services via mobile devices at a cheaper cost than banks across the country in Zimbabwe. As such, banks face unprecedented competition from telecommunications companies that are venturing into financial services. It also appears that prudential regulation of banks cannot keep up with the fast pace at which technological innovations are developing and this has created a disjuncture between the regulation and the use of technological innovations to promote financial inclusion in Zimbabwe. The Banking Act [Chapter 24:20] 9 of 1999, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act [Chapter 22:15] 5 of 1999 and the National Payment Systems Act [Chapter 24:23] 21 of 2001 have a limited scope in terms of the regulation of mobile money services in Zimbabwe. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development launched the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) 2016-2020 to provide impetus to the financial inclusion of the poor, unbanked and low-income earners in Zimbabwe. However, the NFIS appears to push more for bank-led financial inclusion than it does for innovation-driven initiatives such as mobile money services. This article highlights the positive influence of mobile money services in improving financial inclusion for the poor, unbanked and low-income earners in Zimbabwe. The article also seeks to point out gaps and flaws in the financial services regulatory framework that may limit the potential of mobile money services to reach more people so that they actively participate in the Zimbabwean economy. It is submitted that the Zimbabwean mobile money services regulations and the financial regulatory framework should be carefully amended in line with the recent innovations in mobile money to adequately regulate the use of mobile money services and innovative technology to address the financial exclusion of the poor, unbanked and low-income earners in Zimbabwe.

Author Biography

Howard Chitimira, Faculty of Law at the North-West University

Senior Lecturer

North-West University           

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Published
2021-06-29
Section
Special Edition: Corporate and Financial Markets 2021