Rabobank’s Zanaco Taps Mobile Money to Boost Zambia Numbers

Zambia National Commercial Bank Plc, which is adding 800 new customers daily, sees further growth by offering mobile-phone transactions to the almost two-thirds of potential clients who have no bank account.

“We see today that approximately 37 percent of the bankable population has been reached,” Martyn Schouten, the managing director of Zanaco, as the bank is known, said in an interview on April 5. “So two-thirds of those who could be banked are not banked yet. Until we catch up with those numbers, the outlook for bank growth in Zambia is positive.”

Lenders in Africa’s biggest copper producer have benefited as the economy expanded at an estimated 7.3 last year, according to the Bank of Zambia data. Loans grew by almost one-fifth from January to October 2012, the Bankers Association of Zambia said.

Zanaco, the country’s biggest lender and 46 percent owned by Amsterdam-based Rabobank International, plans to boost customer numbers by providing mobile banking services after forming an alliance with Bharti Airtel Ltd.’s local unit, Schouten said.

The lender aims to grow its customer base by 62 percent to 1 million by 2015, from 617,000 at the end of 2012, Schouten earlier told the company’s annual general meeting in Lusaka.

Zanaco is trying to emulate the success of lenders in Kenya, where in June last year the value of mobile money transactions equaled 60 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to telecommunications trade group GSMA.

Going Mobile

Mobile-money transfers, which allow customers that don’t necessarily have access to bank branches to make payments and transfer cash using their phones, will continue to grow in Zambia, Schouten said.

“We are taking some early steps in those areas and I think we will see other banks follow down the road.”

Standard Chartered Plc, Barclays Plc, and Standard Bank Group Ltd. have operations in Zambia.

Zanaco made 156 million kwacha ($30 million) in after-tax profit in 2012, a 30 percent increase on the previous year. The stock was unchanged at 0.26 kwacha at 10:16 a.m. in Lusaka according to the Lusaka Stock Exchange’s website. It has gained 44 percent this year.

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