Going cashless in Zambia

Going cashless in Zambia

In Zambia, 80% of adults don’t have bank accounts. Just consider the implications of that for a moment. Bank accounts allow us to save, get loans, pay bills, receive salaries, transfer money, invest, shop. For the millions of Zambians who don’t have accounts, none of these tasks are easy, many just aren’t possible.

Cash remains king for nearly all financial transactions, for individuals and the companies that transact with them. For instance we work with a large cotton company that has to pay its 100,000 small-scale farmers with cash, requiring payment to be made under the watchful eye of armed guards. This is dangerous and expensive for everyone involved.

I work for Mobile Transactions Zambia, a startup dedicated to making financial transactions in Africa easy, quick, safe… and cashless. We connect organizations of all sizes to the mass market using a proprietary payments technology and a country-wide network of agents.

Simply put we’re making transactions via mobile phone possible for the majority who don’t have bank accounts. We’re serving those who need it most: a small-scale cotton farmer receiving payment for his annual harvest; a women’s group paying back their micro-credit loan; an HIV patient redeeming food vouchers from the World Food Programme; and, everyday Zambians working in the city who want to send money to their families in the village.

The explosive growth of mobile phones allows us to serve customers that have never had access to financial services, but it hasn’t been easy. Those without much cash want to preserve what they have, and this requires a massive shift in how people understand and manage money.

Our dedicated, international team that includes Zambians, South Africans, and Canadians, has worked for three years to figure out how to best serve our customers. Our efforts are starting to pay off. With a recent investment of $4million (the largest of its kind in Zambia) and a passionate team at the helm, we believe we’re well on our way to realizing our dream of a cashless Africa that works first and foremost for those who are struggling most.

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As the Customer Experience Manager at Mobile Transactions Zambia, Thulasy Lettner makes sure the customer is front-and-centre of product development and service delivery. Follow MTZ on Twitter and Facebook.
April 24, 2012