- The world has experienced a proliferation of technology and innovations that have significantly altered the digital landscape and the way which economic agents offer services and products.
- The financial sector is leveraging on these technological innovations to improve efficiency, lower the cost of financing and improve convenience, speed of service delivery and quality of information provided to users of these services.
- Zimbabwe has witnessed a fair share of Fintech growth in several areas, especially in insurance, payments and trading, including the revolution in cryptocurrency.
- Some of the notable innovative services and products include mobile money, electronic platforms (such as Zimswitch, Payserv, Paynow money), switching services, crypto currencies.
- Several regulatory bodies across the globe have started understudying and exploring the various approaches to regulating Fintech in a manner that balances innovation, inclusion and stability.
- In view of the potential of Fintech to enhance efficiencies, reduce cost of doing business and facilitate the inclusion of the base of the pyramid, the Reserve Bank is spearheading the development of a National Fintech framework to guide the adoption, implementation and regulation of Fintech in the financial services sector.
In view of the multi-dimensional nature of Fintech innovations, Zimbabwe has adopted a collaborative and consultative approach. The Reserve Bank, other financial sector regulators and relevant Government Ministries held the inaugural Fintech meeting on 31 May 2019, culminating in the establishment of a National Fintech Steering Committee supported by an Interagency Fintech Working Group (IFWG). The Committee will assess the granular aspects of FinTech and its implications with a view to provide strategic policy direction on how the country can create an enabling environment that promotes financial technology innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Committee and the IFWG is composed of representatives from:
- Ministry of Finance and Economic Development,
- Ministry of Information Communication Technology,
- Ministry of Industry and Commerce,
- Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs,
- Office of the President and Cabinet,
- Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe,
- Zimbabwe Revenue Authority,
- Securities Exchange Commission,
- Insurance and Pension Commissions, and
- Postal and Telecommunications Authority of Zimbabwe.
The Working Group’s duties and responsibilities are to:
- conduct a scoping exercise to gain a general understanding of the major FinTech innovations in the country;
- assess to benefits, risks, challenges and opportunities arising from digitization and use of financial technology;
- assess best practices (including other country experiences) on legal and regulatory models of dealing with FinTech;
- recommend appropriate regulatory response including the innovation platforms and regulatory reforms;
- identify FinTech use cases for the regulatory authorities including RegTech/ SupTech and centralized eKYC; and
- provide sound and practical recommendations to the National Fintech Steering Committee.
The Committee’s responsibilities includes:
- spearhead the development of a National Fintech Strategy;
- critically analyze the regulatory regime of Fintech across all the sectors in Zimbabwe;
- consider how the country can leverage on Fintech in the critical sectors of the economy, including access to finance, delivery of e-services to vulnerable sections, record management and other government services, access and adoption of digital payments, and to study the developments in these areas;
- advise on how to develop FinTech space in Zimbabwe with a view to make a flexible regulatory environment which can adapt to the dynamic nature of financial and other technologies;
- identify potential and existing gaps of developing FinTech space in Zimbabwe;
- promote the leveraging on Fintech to promote inclusion, efficiency and economic growth
- promote ease of doing business in the financial sector through FinTech;
- propose measures to ensure a successful FinTech hub;
- develop regulatory interventions including innovation platforms such as regulatory sandbox, innovation hubs and accelerators, that will enhance the role of FinTech;
- consider development of open data and centralized e-eKYC platforms;
- keep abreast of the developments in the Fintech sector globally, and in Zimbabwe;
- produce and publish a periodic report; and
- consider international and regional cooperation opportunities in areas of Fintech.