Fintech Uhuru gets RBZ tests approval

Tapiwanashe Mangwiro Senior Business Reporter

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has granted financial technology (fintech) services start-up Uhuru Innovative Solutions (Uhuru) regulatory sandbox testing approval.

According to the RBZ, the fintech regulatory sandbox, is intended for innovators in the financial services sector who have already developed their service, product, or business model and are ready to undertake a proof of concept through monitored market testing.

Uhuru founder and chief executive Trust Jakarasi said, “Uhuru is one of the two fintech start-ups included in the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe regulatory sandbox and as a result, we have initiated testing our payments solution.”

The sandbox endeavour is supposed to bring fintech start-ups and traditional financial institutions closer together and maybe foster relations to improve financial services.

According to Mr Jakarasi, his company’s platform is especially vital for the Zimbabweans residing in neighbouring South Africa.

“We have created the perfect platform for immigrant workers living in South Africa to seamlessly support their families here in Zimbabwe,” Jakarasi added.

The testing process is in partnership with a local bank, which the fintech start-up said will announce in the coming weeks.

He added that the platform would also enable individuals as well as enterprises “to exchange value, anywhere, anytime and at affordable fees.”

This move might encourage other startups who have not signed up for the fintech regulatory sandbox in that field to approach the RBZ. The more the merrier for the central bank because it will have a larger constellation of businesses to work with and different perspectives.

Also compounding problems for the diaspora community is the strengthening US dollar, which effectively means migrants must now send more money in the currency of their residency. Since the US Federal began its regular upward adjustment of interest rates, the dollar has gained against many major currencies.

This, coupled with the high sending fees, forces migrants to opt for informal channels, which are just as efficient but not secure

According to Mr Jakarasi, Uhuru’s Whatsapp platform allows Zimbabweans living in South Africa to send as low as US$3 in the form of airtime or electricity to support families back home. Furthermore, users of the platform are also able to make other payments like hospital bills, school fees, and utility bills.

Uhuru will support this innovation via its network of agents and merchants across the country.

The sandbox guidelines set out the objectives and principles of the testing framework, and provide guidance to the applicant on the application process and the information to be provided to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

The RBZ said, “The sandbox activities, which shall be tested, are those, which the Reserve Bank would be able to oversee in terms of the Reserve Bank Act, Chapter 22:15; Banking Act, Chapter 24:20, the National Payment Systems Act, Chapter 24:23; the Money Laundering And Proceeds Of Crime Act, Chapter 9:24; Exchange Control Act Chapter 22:05 and any other relevant regulations.”

In his 2022 mid-term monetary policy statement, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor John Mangudya insisted that the inclusion of Uhuru Innovative Solutions and Llyod Crowd Funding in the sandbox proved the RBZ’s “commitment to promoting responsible innovation.” At the time, the RBZ governor revealed that while Llyod Crowd Funding had already commenced, Uhuru would only start at a later date.

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