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CBZ invests $8m in IT solutions

CBZ Holdings Limited is set to invest $8 million in IT solutions to drive cashless transactions amid worsening liquidity challenges in Zimbabwe.

BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA

CBZ CEO Never Nyemudzo told Standardbusiness on Friday that the group had also invested into boosting its customer service to help clients utilise cashless solutions.

“We want to invest into more cashless solutions. Next year, we will be making an investment of about $8 million into IT solutions to move our clients to more cashless solutions,” Nyemudzo said.

To date, CBZ Holdings has deployed more than 5 000 point of sale (POS) machines at a cost of $250 and $500 per machine in the economy and has about 2 000 more in its reserves.

Earlier this year, the group, through its banking division, launched a mobile application “CBZ Touch” at a cost of about $3 million. Other banks that launched mobile applications this year include FBC Bank.

CBZ’s drive to intensify more cashless transactions comes as the banking sector is grappling with a cash crisis that has seen banks placing caps on withdrawals. The crisis has intensified, moreso after the central bank announced that bond notes would soon join the basket of currencies, which triggered panic withdrawals.

Nyemudzo said the group was working round the clock to make e-platforms work better.

“We acknowledge that clients have not been able to access as much cash as they would want to do. however, because of that situation we took advantage and said let’s invest more into plastic money. The number of POS machines that have been rolled out into this economy keeps increasing and the number of mobile applications keeps increasing,” Nyemudzo said.

He said their launch of the CBZ Touch earlier this year was a major part of the e-banking drive.

“There is something important to understand; not all transactions done by clients require cash, not all visits to the bank are about cash, so these e-platforms and the CBZ Touch has brought about speed and convenience,” he said.

“You can do all other things, you can pay your bills, pay your school fees at the comfort of your time. Banks must invest into assisting clients so that they can transact online, so as CBZ, we then set-up an experience centre.”

He said through the experience centre, they would get their personnel to help clients use their cashless solutions.

“We have invested so much that whilst our clients are not able to access as much cash as they may want, they will still be able to transact so that they can do their business with more convenience and speed,” Nyemudzo said.

As at June 30 this year, in the bank’s audited financial statements for the first half of the year, CBZ Bank had a balance with banks and cash of $53,63 million. This was up from $42,52 million in December 2015.

Banks make their money through net interest income, which is the interest charged on loans. However, this income stream has not been performing well after banks reduced lending to stem the growth of non-performing loans ratio which reached a peak of 20,45% in 2014.

This has seen banks getting a huge chunk of its income from the non-interest stream, including service fees and charges on transactions.

As at June 30 this year, CBZ Bank registered a lower net interest income of $38,62 million from $47,6 million in the same period last year.

“Next year, we will continue with the operationalisation of our regional and global expansion strategy,” Nyemudzo said.

The group is also looking into investing millions of its loan book into SMEs which will involve helping SMEs structure their business from the beginning into target projections.

He said “this is the only way to avoid failure”.

The group’s consolidated balance sheet now stands above the $2 billion mark.

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