Eighty-six percent of Zambians do not have bank accounts, these individuals are aged above 10 years. This largely explains the rhetoric that a majority of Zambians are not banked.
According to the Zambia ICT survey, the situation is worse in rural areas where 94.3 % of the rural population aged above 10 years do not have bank accounts compared to 73.7 % of individuals in urban areas without bank accounts.
Considering how behind Zambia is with digital innovation, it should come as no surprise that the term digital financial services raises eyebrows and question marks.
A definition of digital financial services (DFS) is usually the delivery of basic financial services through new technologies like mobile phones, electronic money and new channels such as retail agents. Therefore, e-commerce is not the same as digital financial services. E-commerce is a part of digital financial services.
The Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) in collaboration with the Central Statistical Office (CSO) and the Ministry of Transport and Communications in the month of August 2015, conducted a Survey on Access and Usage of ICT in Zambia.
According to the survey report:
Access to digital financial services
There was a marked improvement in the proportion of people in the country aware of the existence of digital financial services from 26.4 % of the population aged above 10 years recorded in 2013 to 45.9 % in 2015.
The majority of individuals aware of the existence of digital financial services are in urban areas constituting 58.1 % of all the people aware of the existence of digital financial services while only 41.9 % of the individuals aware of the existence of the services are found in rural areas.
However, only 30 % of the individuals aware of the existence of digital financial services have used the service to pay for goods and services or transfer funds. There is a marked improvement in the proportion of digital financial services users from 8.9 % recorded in 2013 to 30% in 2015.
The majority of digital financial services users are found in urban areas accounting for 69.7 % of all digital financial services users.
Barriers to the Usage of Digital Financial Services by Individuals
It was discovered that only 57.9 % of the people surveyed were aware of the existence the digital financial services but do not use the services.
This was mainly due to the perception that DFS are not secure and expensive highlighted by 39.2 % and 38.4 % of the people that are aware of the existence the DFS but do not use the services respectively. These results are summarised in Table 1 below.
Table 1: Access to Digital Financial Services; 2013-2015
|Proportion of individuals aware of the existence of Digital Financial Services||
|Proportion of individuals aware of the existence of Digital Financial Services based in urban Areas||
|Individuals that use Digital Financial services as a proportion of those who are aware of the existence of the service||
|Individuals that use Digital Financial services as a proportion of those who are aware of the existence of the service based in Urban areas||
Source: ZICTA official website publications.