OFFICIALS from Zimbabwe’s Steward Bank on Saturday invaded South Africa to try and lure Zimbabweans based in the neighbouring country into using the bank’s EcoCash mobile money transfer facility and other services.
The services also include the Diaspora Savings Account, diaspora Current Account, diaspora Fixed Deposit Account, EcoCash$ave Account and EcoCash Banking Services.
Steward Bank CEO, Kwanele Ngwenya told Zimbabwean migrants the facility was capable of fast transfer of their cash to relatives back home and eliminates risks associated with one sending cash through cross-border transport operators.
“This is the bank designed to cater for your needs,” he said. “If you open an account with us, you can do whatever you want with your money wherever you will be.”
Rather than risk sending cash through relatives and transporters (omalayitsha), Ngwenya said, the bank’s money transfer facility was a guaranteed way fulfilling the need.
he bank chief also told the Diasporans his bank boasted over 12 000 agents throughout Zimbabwe, allaying any fears the recipients may need to travel long distances to access the money.
These, he said, include shops and kiosks which were also found in the country’s remote rural areas.
Most Zimbabweans who are based abroad still have memories of the bank anarchy over six years ago and have not had a chance to witness the new banking culture that is beginning to restore confidence in the beleaguered sector among locals.
Ngwenya assured the Zimbabweans their savings deposited with the bank were safe as the bank was well funded.
“Our bank is well capitalised. Every morning we meet to discuss any risk associated with the banking industry. During the times when people withdraw large sums of money in December or during elections we never ran out of cash. Our bank is young but in top 5 best performing banks.”
He said clients they were still capable of using their accounts when they visit home.
Ngwenya also said his bank was also user-friendly and remained the only bank in the country that allows clients to chat online with bank officials and still get responses instantly.
Bank Business Development & Corporate Strategy Executive, Lance Mambondiani added that they want to turn Zimbabwe into a card-less society which is safe. He said their interest rates stood at 5-7 percent.Advertisement
Some Diaspora accounts offered by the bank have no monthly charges, he said.
The bank will soon launch a home loan account which will also help those who want to buy or build houses.
Mambondiani said, “We have a good regulator, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and your money is safe. There is also stability in the banking sector in the country.”
NewZimbabwe.com also spoke to the Zimbabwe consular in Johannesburg Godfrey Magwezi, who praised the bank for the initiative.
Magwenzi said, “We are grateful that a Zimbabwean bank has come up with an initiative that addresses the issues, needs and concerns of Zimbabweans. This will make sending money home safe.”
Thembi Sibanda a Zimbabwean in South Africa attended the launch and said the initiative is a noble idea.
“Many Zimbabweans in South Africa use asylum papers which make it impossible to open bank accounts and save money,” he said.
“Now Zimbabweans will be able to open accounts with their Zimbabwean identity cards and save money and use it wisely when they return home.”
Sibanda also said the home loan will also help diasporans in building houses.
The Steward bank marketing strategy will involve road shows in Johannesburg’s suburbs where most Zimbabweans live to sell and will roll into the rich country’s port cities of Durban and Cape Town.
The bank is also set to visit Botswana next month for the same purpose before extending the same initiative in Zambia, Zimbabwe’s northern neighbour and the United Kingdom.