ABSA Zambia leans towards digital platforms, as COVID-19 hits

  • Visa debit card launched on 17 July
  • Card has an embedded chip which limits theft risks
  • Absa clients in Zambia can make contactless purchases abroad

Harare – The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated and pushed the need, implementation and utilisation of contactless payment platforms as maintaining social distancing is a critical combating measure.

In Zambia, Absa has rolled out the country’s first contactless payment card.

The Visa debit card which was launched on 17 July permits customers to make small convenience purchases by tapping the card on a point-of-sale machine hence no need to touch anyone or anything.

Absa Zambia’s card has an embedded chip, which limits the risks in terms of theft, with purchases limited to five per day.

According to the banks CEO, Mizinga Melu the bank’s customers located outside Zambia will be able to make contactless payments if they visit the country and Absa clients in Zambia can use the card to make contactless purchases abroad.

Banks that can offer contactless payment, and retailers that can accept it, are hoping to attract hygiene-conscious customers.

“COVID-19 has been a “catalyst for accelerating the bank’s digital strategy, the bank also plans in coming weeks to announce a partnership with MTN to exempt banking customers from data charges. “Customers don’t want to be charged for checking their balances,” said Melu.

The use of contactless payment methods in southern Africa has accelerated rapidly as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, a cashless society however faces risks that include cybersecurity risks, and additional costs for data and network connectivity.

Relying on point of sale devices assumes network connectivity and electricity availability. Sometimes those are simply not there.

Cashless payments also risk deepening the divide between formal and informal sector workers. Payment for informal work is often in cash, but the fees which are often charged for bank cash deposits deter informal workers from cashless transactions.

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