Zimswitch Technologies, a technical company that provides an electronic payment system platform in Zimbabwe, is pushing banks and mobile network operators (MNOs) to integrate their services by sharing infrastructure.

Zimswitch was formed in 1994 as a partnership of five banks and manages Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) and Point Of Sale (POS) machines in the country.

It introduced services such as Zipit, Vpayments which is internet shopping and also linked payment settlement to Real Time Gross Settlement, products that are now characteristic of the Zimbabwean plastic money economy.

The fintech company held its inaugural conference in Victoria Falls recently where it invited bankers and financial experts from local banks and abroad.

The conference’s theme was ‘Dedicated to enabling payment systems interoperability’ which sought to encourage financial players to consider leveraging on available infrastructure.

The idea of inter-operability was topical at the conference with participants debating on its advantages.

Company deputy general manager Zabron Chikalakala said: “interoperability expands access to utilisation of electronic payments and also eliminates competition.

“It beings affordability to consumers and as Zimswitch we advocate for interoperability.

“We have had a 99 percent increase on transactions between January and April this year, moving from 35 291 000 transactions last year to 70 200 000 this year.

“We thank you for supporting Zimswitch and we advocate for interoperability where you should cooperate.”

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe deputy director, Josephat Mutepfa challenged banks to come together for their benefit and that of the consumers.

“The pursuit of economic agenda in the country and SADC is dependent on financial services and payment systems which play a critical role as a safe, reliable and sustainable gateway,” he said.

“In this regard I urge the financial community to capacitate on technological development and an enabling environment to cooperate and offer affordable financial services to a wide range of customers.”

He said the central bank was for the idea of interoperability, as he warned that banks that will not cooperate with others risk falling by the wayside because of technology.

Participants expressed concern that currently, each bank or MNO has its own POS or ATM which although linked through Zimswitch, are specifically for its customers.

This becomes expensive for consumers who are charged differently based on their parent bank on duplicated services.

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