Original Articles

Mobile Money for Financial Inclusion: Policy and Regulatory Perspective in Zimbabwe

DOI: 10.1080/20421338.2013.829287
Author(s): Alex BaraSenior Economist at the Agriculture Bank of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe

Abstract

The introduction of mobile telephony and innovative technology in financial services is forcing regulators to re-evaluate their rules for financial service provision. Zimbabwe also adopted mobile financial service, and has realised rapid growth in mobile financial services. Inevitably, it has also been confronted with the regulatory challenges associated with Mobile Money (MM). The country has benchmarked its policy and regulation for MM products on international standards, more specifically, on the Kenya's M-PESA Model. The Central Bank (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe [RBZ]) has used the National Payment System Act as well as internally developed policy guidelines to regulate mobile financial services. The major shortfalls of the current regulatory framework include lack of clarity on how overlaps and conflicts of regulators and players are addressed, limitation of products, the question of legality and non-enforceability of some frameworks and lack of emphasis on financial inclusion. This article uses interviews and discussions with key stakeholders, as well as review of published literature to make a number of recommendations. Key among these recommendations include the need for enactment of the Electronic Money Act which regulates mobile financial services, proactiveness of the regulators in coming up with suitable regulation after innovation, harmonization of regulation to address potential conflict of regulators and individual institutions and engagement of international experts in coming up with such regulation.

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