TELONE Centre for Learning (TCFL) will host a mobile financial services hackathon for State-owned mobile operator NetOne in collaboration with South Africa’s FinMark Trust to promote mobile financial services.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
Finmark Trust said the hackathon was really designed for young innovators interested in financial inclusion.
“This hackathon is aimed at soliciting new ideas to facilitate product diversification and unlock opportunities for improved access to finance for the poor. It is to promote product innovations for mobile financial services, especially for the poor and rural populations.”
The hackathon, running between tomorrow and Sunday, will be held in Harare.
A hackathon is defined as a design sprint-like event in which computer programmers and experts in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers collaborate intensively on software projects.
In this hackathon, the focus will be on mobile financial services as the country has seen growth in the mobile penetration rate which stood at 84,6% at the end of the first quarter of the year and an increase in mobile money subscribers.
In the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) report for the first quarter of the year released this week, the total number of active mobile money subscriptions as at March 31,stood at 5 500 625 up from 4 706 778 recorded in the last quarter of 2017.
Potraz said this represented a 6,35% increase in active mobile money subscribers in the first quarter of 2018 with Econet leading with 4 847 014, followed by Telecel with 79 643 and NetOne 78 968.
“NetOne experienced the biggest leap in active mobile money subscriptions of 49% when compared to the last quarter 2017 figures. In absolute terms, however, Econet increased its subscribers by 272 605, while
NetOne and Telecel increased by 26 028 and 214 respectively,” Potraz said.
In terms of agents, there was 27,7% growth in mobile agents in the period under review to 34 841 from 27 284 in the last quarter of 2017.
Of the 34 841, Econet had 26 635 mobile agents which represented an 8,07% increase from the last quarter of 2017 while NetOne saw a growth of 326,24% to 7 472. Meanwhile, Telecel saw a 16,97% reduction in its mobile money agents to 734.
“The current cash constraints have spurred mobile money bill and merchant payments to be used as an effective alternative mode of making payments. In the quarter under review, airtime, bill and merchant payments increased by 6% to record $772 307 418 from $725 510 160 recorded in the last quarter of 2017,” Potraz said.
“The use of bank to wallet transfers has stimulated the use of mobile money for effecting payment transactions. The growth trend is expected to continue as more people embrace mobile financial services.”
This shows that mobile money services continues to dominate mobile financial services which has also seen the largest mobile money provider Econet offer other financial services like life assurance through its EcoSure product.
TelOne communications and client experience head, Melody Harry, said the hackathon programme would train participants to develop new solutions that could further change the mobile financial services landscape.
“The participants will receive mentoring, skills training and the chance to develop solutions that could change the mobile financial services landscape in Zimbabwe. The programme will also enable participants to further their data skills,” she said.
Meanwhile, FinMark Trust has also announced plans to set up a local office in Zimbabwe by next month.
The South African-based FinMark Trust, is an independent trust established to promote financial inclusion and regional financial integration. FinMark Trust was behind the FinScope Survey conducted in 2012 on small-to-medium entrepreneurs and their financial inclusion.