The first kiosk banking unit in Zimbabwe opened in March at the Africa University campus and it is operated entirely by students. Three students—an accounting major, business studies major, and computer information systems major—are providing the campus and surrounding community with a wide range of banking services.
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"It is exciting and a real honor to be involved," said Tafara Tsvedemu, a sophomore who describes himself as the 'IT guy' in the team. "There is a lot of pressure, but it is also a great experience for us to be in charge and responsible for something like this."
From a portable and ergonomically designed cabin, the students process transfers and deposits, open accounts, distribute point-of-sale terminals, and attend to customer queries. The only service that isn't available is cash transactions, and that's due to an ongoing shortage of cash (actual currency) in Zimbabwe.
The kiosk bank is a partnership between Africa University and Steward Bank—a subsidiary of Econet —an African leader in telecommunications and e-banking innovation. Steward Bank was established in 2009 and has built its reputation on tackling old problems with new solutions. The advantage that the kiosk has over the traditional brick-and-mortar bank branch is that it offers a quick and less-costly set-up as well as convenience, flexibility, and accessibility to the most isolated groups in a country or region.
"This bank may be branded Steward Bank but it belongs to you (AU)," said Dr. Lance Mambodiani, Steward Bank's chief executive officer. "We aim establish a partnership with you that has the capacity of transcending time…(and) creating a relationship that is mutually beneficial and symbiotic in nature because as AU grows, so do we."
The kiosk bank is connected to the i5Hub, Africa University's innovation and business incubation platform. The students who run it are being encouraged to create and participate in commercializing new banking products and services. Their areas of focus include mobile applications for banking, marketing, customer service, and student-friendly financial services.
"We are thinking and tossing ideas back and forth every day, looking at how we can make banking better for our client base," said Tsvedemu.
Andra Stevens, director of communications in the Africa University Development Office. This article includes reporting by Jeanette Dadzie, staff of the information and public affairs office of Africa University
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