Another example of how mobile networks in many countries are able to overcome problems of accessibility to banks comes from Zimbabwe, where WhatsApp is now an enabler for banking services.
Steward Bank in Zimbabwe is the latest in a series of major banks across Africa to successfully integrate and offer chat banking services on WhatsApp. The bank launched the service in partnership with Clickatell, an authorized global WhatsApp business solution provider. According to Steward Bank, just over 37,000 customer profiles were registered in the first three weeks following the launch.
WhatsApp is a popular chat application in Zimbabwe, making Steward Bank’s presence on WhatsApp a potential driver for financial inclusion in the country.
Steward Bank is expecting a positive uptake for its WhatsApp-based chat banking service, Sosholoza. With Sosholoza, customers can initiate frequently used banking capabilities including balance checks, money transfers and airtime purchases. The bank hopes to extend the reach of the service to WhatsApp users across the country, eliminating the need for these users to download a banking app that could use costly data bundles.
There would also be less complexity. Users simply save the Steward Bank WhatsApp number and begin the conversation with a “Hi” message. Security and privacy for banking chats are ensured by the bank grade Clickatell platforms. And this system makes Steward Bank's services available to non-Steward Bank customers regardless of geographical location, bank affiliation and even mobile money operator affiliation.
Clickatell says the WhatsApp Business solution is being rapidly extended to other verticals including retail, e-commerce, and travel.