banksHARARE — The Zimbabwe units of Barclays and Nedbank have announced projects to boost their presence in Zimbabwe by opening new branches, installing new automated teller machines (ATMs) and developing new, technology-based banking platforms across the country.

Barclays Zimbabwe and Nedbank’s MBCA Bank are two of four foreign banks in Zimbabwe — the others are Standard Chartered and Standard Bank-owned Stanbic Bank.

Setting up new ATMs and opening branches will enhance the two banks’ share of the market in Zimbabwe and put them in a better position to compete against other banks in a country that has more than 20 banks.

MBCA spokeswoman Dedrey Mutimutema on Wednesday confirmed the group would open branches. This is despite pressure from government officials on foreign banks in Zimbabwe to give a 51% stake to Zimbabweans, in line with the country’s contentious indigenisation laws.

“The bank will expand service delivery channels. The delivery channels will include extending our branch footprint, advancing our electronic platforms, as well as the introduction of mobile banking services,” Ms Mutimutema said.

She would not say how much the bank was investing in the expansion. Reports say MBCA will open further branches in Harare and three others outside the capital to add to the bank’s six-branch network.

Despite earlier concerns over Zimbabwe’s indigenisation legislation, the Zimbabwe unit of Barclays Bank this week launched hi-tech ATMs which officials say will enhance security and speed up transactions. The bank has already installed about 45 such ATMs — all of which feature tight security and surveillance equipment — at nearly 75% of the bank’s branches in the major cities and urban centres.

“It is important for us to ensure that each transactional channel makes their clients’ lives … easier,” Barclays Zimbabwe MD George Guvamatanga said.

He said the bank was to launch a new banking platform later this month that would enable depositors to conduct transactions using smartphones.

In the year to end-December, Barclays Zimbabwe’s after-tax profit jumped to $2.1m compared with the previous corresponding period’s $1.4m profit.

MBCA said after-tax profit for the year to end-December rose to $4.96m — showing significant growth of 48%, which officials say was underpinned by a 37% rise in net interest income.

Zimbabwean banks, generally, are enhancing their service offerings to compete more effectively with telecommunications companies that have started offering various financial services.

CBZ, an established local bank, has engaged South African company Sparks ATM Systems to deploy in-store ATM machines. The group plans to set up about 300 in-store ATMs across the country, having already set up six in retail outlets, food courts and at petrol stations — mainly in Harare — in the past month.

From: za.news.yahoo.com

By: Tawanda Karombo

Date: 11 April 2013