BY BUSINESS REPORTER
ZIMBABWE’s financial services industry has an opportunity to tap into the multi-billion dollar tech market if it leverages the new 5G network in its digitization drive to increase efficiency, promote financial inclusion and prevent fraud , said an industry expert.

Managing Director of Global Renaissance Investments, Ngoni Dzirutwe, said with the mobile sector rolling out 5G technology this year, banks and insurance companies need to prepare by developing their 5G strategies to compete with fintech rivals. Otherwise, they risk falling behind in the digital economy.

“The increased speed brought by 5G networks will allow financial institutions to perform more complex processes much faster, minimizing wait times for things such as identity verification for new customers at home. onboarding and loan tracking,” he said.

A recent report by multinational tax advisory and services firm PwC estimates that the use of 5G in financial services would bring $85 billion to the sector by 2030.

Listed mobile network provider Econet Wireless became the first company in Zimbabwe to roll out the 5G service in February, which is poised to help banks and other financial firms deliver the innovative mobile services consumers prefer.

Dzirutwe said the introduction of 5G would mean better performance of existing banking apps and websites.

“Despite the renewed interest in digital due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many mobile banking apps still lag in functionality. Common complaints include slow mobile apps and frequent crashes or timeouts. 5G will enable banks to address these drawbacks and help them deliver a more seamless customer experience,” he added.

Several banks in Zimbabwe, including Standard Chartered, Steward Bank, Stanbic, NMB and CBZ, among others, are engaged in a digitization drive that has improved transaction efficiency.

Dzirutwe said 5G would also help advance the government’s financial inclusion agenda by bringing banking services to rural areas.

“Despite decades of sustained efforts by governments around the world, a large portion of the world’s population remains unbanked. However, pop-up branches powered by 5G or mobile banking will enable the majority of people living in rural and marginalized areas to have access to banking and insurance services,” he said.

Market analysts also believe that 5G will provide faster and easier payment options, which will make mobile and digital payments even more attractive to the masses and merchants, further boosting usage.

This will be the key to economic growth.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has led to an increase in digital payments by consumers, as it offered a contactless form of transaction and unparalleled convenience during the lockdown period. As a result, commerce – especially e-commerce – has had the boost of a lifetime. This is an area where financial institutions can play a key role in expanding the market with the help of 5G,” said Philemon Mare, Financial Analyst at a South African investment bank.

“Another major benefit of 5G will be the ability for banks to improve proactive fraud prevention and make informed decisions in real time. Data processing, verification of the nature of transactions, confirmation of transaction amounts and the availability of funds, consultation of several instances of data in real time, coupled with the geolocation of customers and the merchant’s identifier , will reduce fraud detection errors and false positives, thereby protecting consumers and the bank’s bottom line,” he said.

According to PwC, losses from financial fraud will be reduced by more than $30 billion by 2030 thanks to 5G security measures.

International trends have also shown that in addition to 5G, continued growth in mobile phone penetration will pave the way for a larger and more sophisticated digital payments market. E-wallet services will enable mobile payments from a single account, empowering consumers as well as merchants and agents.

Meanwhile, Global Renaissance Investments will host its annual ICT Conference and Awards next month at the Meikles Hotel in Harare, where experts will unpack the future of 5G and how the industry and several sectors of the economy can adapt to new technological trends.

Speakers include ICT Minister Jenfan Muswere, Econet COO Kezito Makuni, NMB Bank Digital Director Cloud Nhau, DHL Zimbabwe Country Director Shuvai Mugadza and POSB ICT Director Loice Ngulube .

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