Trust, Key to a Successful Digital Economy

    Prior to the failure of numerous troubled Financial Institutions in the early 2000s and the fall of the Zimbabwe currency in 2008, banks were considered with very high regard as the epitome of trust and integrity in Financial services. No one could have imagined a scenario where savings deposited in a bank could deteriorate or completely ‘vanish’ overnight. Though a result of prevailing economic circumstances, banks were unfortunate to be the face of all money related matters as they dealt directly with customers. Consequently, a great distrust grew against banks in general, a factor that stunted growth and expansion of financial services to the unbanked.

    This distrust worked against the adoption of Mobile Financial Services that emerged in 2011 with the launch of Skwama, Ecocash, and One Wallet. In fact up, while from 2008 to 2010 the price of a SIM reduced from USD$100 to USD$1 and mobile penetration rose to 1 million to 7,2 million, the number of registered Mobile Money Subscribers stood at 3 million by 2013, mostly inactive. The market was rather skeptical about plastic money especially with the experiences of lost savings, devaluation, and any kind of money that they could not call on in hard currency when needed.

    With the coming in of the digital era, better ways of improving productivity were introduced, albeit within the same wounded market. As a result, even the migration from paper to computers was resisted. Where the migration and adoption policy was poor, you actually had the exact same copy of a data recorded on paper transferred onto a computer and both sources kept as primary sources.

    The culture of distrust is highlighted in common talk where one has failed to get service because the “system is down”. Key institutions like the ZESA prepaid token system have gone down several times causing such inconvenience to utility consumers. Ecocash, a major payments arm goes down every so often. Even when uninterrupted, network access can be so undependable at payment point with consistently failing USSD access that one has to opt for another method of payment. Banking services that depend on internet connectivity are constantly unavailable due to faulty redundance. A myriad of challenges associated with card payments including network unavailability, battery depletion, failure of EMV or swipe cards on a multichannel POS. So many issues and challenges whose end result has been the loss of trust in Digital Financial Solutions.

    The Zimswitch Payments Conference 2019 called on players in Digital Financial Services to recognize the need for Transparency, Safety, and Security as critical in achieving a trust level that will see the increase in uptake of DFS. Mr Ronald Mutandagayi (Group CEO @ZB_Bank ), delivering the keynote address stressed that “Trust is a key ingredient of a successful Digital Economy and it is derived from sound Risk Management and Secure Digital Platforms as a currency and key asset that will drive a thriving Digital Economy.

    Trust will improve consumer confidence in digital platforms and consequently increase transaction volumes, increase revenue for businesses and the government. In addition, Trust will bring forth interoperability and collaborative traction as well as an environment for the invention of DFS innovations and ultimately improved Financial Inclusion

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