MasterCard has partnered with Steward Bank to make remittance services available to the Zimbabwean bank’s 1.5 million account holders.
For the first time, the bank’s customers will be able to receive funds sent by family and friends abroad directly into their Steward Bank account through international money transfer hub HomeSend, a joint venture between MasterCard, eServGlobal and BICS. Steward Bank is the first Zimbabwean bank to join the global HomeSend network.
Steward Bank’s sister company EcoCash will also connect to HomeSend, enabling more than four million EcoCash mobile money customers to receive remittances into their mobile money wallets. Those who hold a MasterCard Debit Companion card linked to their EcoCash wallets will also be able to withdraw money from MasterCard-licensed ATMs and pay for goods and services at millions of merchants that accept MasterCard payment cards, both in Zimbabwe and internationally.
“Remittances are an important source of foreign currency into Zimbabwe, amounting to $1.8 billion in 2013 received via transfer agencies and formal channels,” said Dr. Lance Mambondiani, acting CEO of Steward Bank. “Thousands of under-banked Zimbabwean families are dependent on funds sent by relatives working in other countries. Now, through the partnership with MasterCard and HomeSend, these citizens have access to affordable, convenient money transfer services.”
The International Organisation for Migration estimates that as many as four million Zimbabweans live abroad, and remittances received from these individuals through formal channels alone contributed about 13 per cent to the country’s GDP in 2013.
“Zimbabweans in the Diaspora are increasingly playing an important role in the development of the country through remittances. However, the cost of transferring money to the country was high until now, and a large proportion of remittances were sent informally in cash,” said Charlton Goredema, vice president and area business head for southern Africa and emerging markets at MasterCard. “Funds sent and received via informal channels are vulnerable to theft, loss and shrinkage due to charges levied for transporting cash between countries.”
“By digitizing and formalising remittance payments, we are further contributing to the growth and development of Zimbabwe’s economy,” he added.
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