The slashing of USSD charges by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) has paved way for the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to follow suit and reduce bank charges in line with country efforts to promote financial inclusion.
POTRAZ is responsible for issuing Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) codes to all banks as well as mobile network operators who offer financial services.
What is USSD?
It is a communication technology that is used to send text between mobile phones and an application program on a network. The applications may include banking apps, prepaid roaming, mobile chatting and mobile financial platforms such as Econet’s Ecocash, NetOne’s OneMoney and Telecel’s Telecash.
POTRAZ has slashed USSD charges from the current 12.5 cents per session to 5 cents per session exclusive of all taxes. The regulator said this move was designed to address the high transaction cost of e-payments and increase financial inclusion. To ensure that this reduction benefits the transacting public, POTRAZ also engaged the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) who will in-turn engage Financial Service Providers so that the reduction is passed on to the transacting public.
In an interview with POTRAZ yesterday, the cutting of tariffs by 60% was meant to improve the universal access to information and also reduce high transacting charges for consumers who used access various banking services through USSD.
Indications are that POTRAZ is already engaging the central bank to review banking charges as the country moves to promote financial inclusion of all sectors of the economy.
In a move also meant to promote total inter-operability, POTRAZ has slashed national interconnection rates from the current 4 cents per minute to 2 cents per minute exclusive of all taxes. This applies across all interconnecting operators which comprise of mobile network operators (MNOs) and Internet service providers (ISP).
The new tariffs were arrived at after POTRAZ concluded a cost modeling exercise for telecommunication network services in Zimbabwe covering mobile, fixed and Internet Access networks.