Central Bank warms up to Crypto Currencies, FinTech

By Staff reporter | 18 Sep 2019 at 11:48hrs
The central bank has seemingly eased on its previous position to restrict the use and trade in Crypto-currencies and their related products to "protect"the average person from potential losses. In the mid-term Monetary Policy Statement titled, "Transition to normalcy", the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe acknowledged the huge potential for Fintech to promote economic growth and development as well as how this group of innovations have altered the financial landscape as well as products and services offered by financial institutions.
The Bank has thus created a National Fintech Steering Committee comprising government line ministries, government departments and regulatory agencies to provide strategic policy direction in the Fintech space. The aptly named Interagency Fintech Working Group (IFWG), will be comprised of the following four committees; Legal/Regulatory, Crypto Assets and Digital Currencies, Innovation/Technical and Consumer Protection.
The ultimate goal of the committee is to create a National Fintech Strategy and build an enabling environment that is an attractive base for Fintech developments in Sub-Saharan Africa. For the IT sector it could create a major avenue for employment and innovation. It is known that the 4th industrial revolution is the fastest way to create wealth through technological means. There have been suggestions of tokenising some of our minerals to back the establishment of a local Crypto Currency, the value of which being tied to the value of the said mineral available within our territory.
In another aspect of technological improvements covered in the MPS, the credit referencing environment continues to improve against the background of increased coverage for the Credit Registry and Credit Bureaus, as well as depth of credit information. Credit is the oil to any economy trying to turn its wheels, and so it is imperative that lenders have adequate information so as to increase the pace at which credit is released as well as to protect themselves from potential defaulters.
As at 30th June 2019 the Credit Registry held 1,044,538 records, of which 525,967 were active loan accounts. Individual records represented 98.4% of the active loan records. Total subscribers as at 30 June 2019 were 174, from 162 as at 30 September 2018, comprising 18 banking institutions, 152 MFIs (including SMEDCO), Depositor Protection Corporation and 3 non-banks. Credit Registry usage levels by subscribing institutions increased steadily to a cumulative 566,298 reports as at 30 June 2019.
Growth in the number of enquiries should result in a steady decline in NPLs moving forward as credit records would be the deciding factor in the assessment of corporates or individuals in their creditworthiness based on their credit history.

The Central Bank is looking to promote access to credit across marginalised and financially excluded sectors of the population by establishing a Collateral Registry in order to operationalize the Movable Property Security Interests Act. Zimbabwe has a large rural population that while access to cash and cash equivalent forms of money may be limited, they have livestock and grain which is valuable. This system would cater to examples such as these and create an avenue for growing the size of the population that is banked.