Enacy Mapakame Business Reporter
DEMAND for point-of-sale (POS) machines within small to medium enterprises has increased as the sector is now embracing the use of plastic money on the back of current cash shortages.
Since the advent of the cash shortages in banks early last year, authorities have been encouraging business and individuals to use plastic money for transactions to ease pressure on cash.
However, there has been some reluctance in some sectors of the economy to use plastic money with others using the illegal triple pricing model.
Steward Bank Limited chief executive Dr Lance Mambondiani told The Herald Business there has been a surge in demand for point of sale gadgets by merchants across the country particularly the SME sector as cash shortages persist.
“You will be surprised to know that there is a significant demand for point of sale devices by all businesses including SMEs,” said Dr Mambondiani by email.
“The cash crisis has meant that customers are now demanding alternative payment methods other than cash and businesses cannot provide customers with alternatives will struggle with sales.
“Currently we are unable to meet the huge demand by all merchants who approach us for POS machines,” he said.
The SME sector is now the largest employer in the country following an economic meltdown that saw big corporates downsizing while others eventually closed.
But the sector has been regarded as reluctant to embrace formal banking channels on the perceived risk in the financial services that started in 2003 /2004.
Harare chamber of SMEs chairman Mr Taurai Marembo, however, said the sector was fast warming up to use of plastic money following some countrywide campaigns on financial literacy particularly the use of plastic money.
He said the main challenge was with the financial institutions as demand was outstripping supply.
“SMEs are ready to use and there has been increased awareness in use of plastic money after we carried out campaigns. We are, however, concerned banks are taking too long to release POS machines.
“Some SMEs are worried they may not get customers willing to transact on POS machines especially tuckshops.
“This is because there is a general mentality in Zimbabweans that is biased towards cash transactions,” said Mr Marembo.
Dr Mambondiani said his bank had taken a deliberate move to invest more in technology to enhance the ease of banking and transaction for every Zimbabwean, which also synchronises with the Government’s Financial Inclusion Policy.
The bank is also riding on POS for hire offering in which organisations or individuals hire the gadgets for single day events.
“We are present in most of the major retailers and supermarkets with over 12 000 POS machines countrywide, we are, however, excited about the POS for hire. We rent these machines on a daily basis and have rented out terminals for thousands of events so far. The programme has provided significant relief to customers,” he said.