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Financial inclusion is the delivery of financial services at affordable costs to sections of disaantaged and low-income segments of society, in contrast to financial exclusion where those services are not available or affordable. According to the Global Financial Index (2012) only 40 percent of adults have formal banks accounts in Zimbabwe and this percentage is lower for students.

Why saving and having a bank account is important

A culture of saving is critical for everyone to be able to create a pool of funds that can address future needs as they arise as well as cushion one from unexpected financial liabilities.

The informal sector can harness their savings towards project financing and students need to develop a savings culture early as a way to have a fund that will set them up on a stable path to financial freedom.

A student has several needs during their studies which includes being able to purchase gadgets to assist them in their research and effective execution of assignments.

This fund can also be used to purchase formal attire as they enter the job market as well as other study and referencing materials for their studies. Smart cash is a transactional account through which one can access other products such as life and personal accident cover.

The Informal Sector

The informal sector is unable to afford most banking products as they tend to have high fees which are not favourable to low income earners.

It is argued that as banking services are in the nature of public good, the availability of banking and payment services to the entire population without discrimination is the prime objective of financial inclusion public policy.

CBZ Bank has taken an active approach to reduce the level of financial exclusion through the launch of SmartCash in December 2014. The account has no minimum balance, no service fees, low transaction costs and only US$5 is required to open the account.

The account opening requirements have been simplified to allow easy access to a bank account for the market segments that having been facing challenges to open accounts -(an ID or valid passport are the only supporting documents required).

Students

Tertiary and high school students are mostly dependent on parents or guardians for their finances and therefore they cannot afford to sustain ordinary bank accounts.

There are a number of supporting documents that are required by banks for students to open accounts and these include proof of residence, copy of proof of residence, passport-size photo, copy of national identification documents and a stipulated deposit.

The required documentation has, however, deterred students from opening bank accounts owing to the students not having payslips, proof of residence or in some instance the money to get the passport-size photo.

The stipulated initial deposit required is at most times beyond the affordability of the students.

The account allows the account holder to enjoy the best of card-based and mobile banking worlds through access to the following services

Balance enquiry and mini statement

Intra-bank transfers to SmartCash accounts and CBZ accounts

ATM withdrawals on CBZ and ZimSwitch ATMs

Purchases and cash back on CBZ and ZimSwitch Point of Sale machines

POS cash withdrawals and deposits

Airtime purchase for self and third party

Access to CashPlus Student Account

Access to Life and Personal Accident Cover

Bill payments (prepaid electricity, DSTV and selected merchants)

Conclusion

With large amounts of money circulating outside the normal banking system it is imperative that banks promote a banking culture in the informal sector and the student community.

This can be done by innovating around accounts that will suit the needs of these market segments, a development that will go a long way in helping to achieve its goal of ensuring that all the money in the country circulates in the normal banking sector.

According to the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe, the low national savings levels have been identified as one of the structural challenges facing our economy and this economic hurdle must be overcome if the short-term nature of deposits in the country’s banking system is to be addressed.

This can only be addressed if as a nation we develop a culture of saving, students and the informal sectors included.

It is against this background that CBZ Bank, the leading bank in the country, has moved in to tailor make an account that is best suited for the informal sector, high school and tertiary institutions students.

The journey towards financial inclusion has truly begun championed by the leading and most innovative financial institution in Zimbabwe.

Dr Eldrette Shereni is head of marketing at CBZ Holdings.

Source : The Herald

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