Increased use of plastic money fuelled by persistent liquidity challenges in the market saw the value of transactions processed through Point Of Sale terminals (POS) hitting ZWL$2.3bn in the four months to April 2019, according to statistics from Zimswitch.
The POS transactions value for 2018 ended at around ZWL$7bn which was an increase from ZWL$4.8bn in the previous year.
The increase in POS transactions during the period was also driven by continued demand for basic commodities in the market towards the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 which saw people disposing of the majority of their Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) balances.
According to the payments services company figures, there was an increase in the volumes of mobile payments which were at ZWL$828m as the mobile penetration rate continues to increase in the country while people in the rural areas are now accustomed to use of mobile payment services.
According to the Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority active mobile subscriptions increased 1,3 percent to record 12 908 992 from 12 748 551 recorded in the third quarter of 2018 while mobile penetration rate increased 1,2 percent to reach 93,1 percent from 91,9 percent recorded in the third quarter of 2018.
The value of ATM transactions for the period were also up ZWL$3,2bn which was increase as most banks during the period started dispensing cash at their respective ATMs. Most financial services used ATMs just for checking their account balances but during the period under review, it has been a different scenario.
The value of internet transactions was ZWL$61m.
"The increase in the value of transactions owes to the continued cash availability challenges during that period and people opted to use digital platforms. The picture has however changed owing to the introduction of the IMTT [intermediated transfer tax]," said an economic analyst.
The economy has been using plastic money among other payment platforms to do business in the wake of cash shortages.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has come up with measures to accelerate efforts towards a cash-lite society through adoption of friendly banking and plastic money payment platforms such as tap-and-go systems and pre-funded cards to enhance the ease of transacting and ease of passage at toll-gates within the country.
According to RBZ monthly economic review for January 2019, mobile and internet value-based transactions declined 21,4 percent to ZWL$4,67bn from ZWL$5,94bn in December 2018.
The volume of mobile and internet-based transactions constituted 76,22 percent of the national payment system transactions, during the period under analysis while card-based transactions ZWL$1,29bn up from ZWL$917m.
The value of cash-based transactions stood at ZWL$254,13m, a 22,3 percent decline from ZWL$327,47m recorded in December 2018.