COVID-19’s Impact on the Banking Sector in Zimbabwe from an HR Perspective

To hear about the effects the pandemic has had on the Zimbabwean banking sector, we hear from CBZ Holdings and the Group’s Chief Human Resources Officer Nyasha Mutsai.

CBZ Holdings is a financial services conglomerate that is listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. It owns subsidiaries whose activities are banking, short- and long-term insurance, risk advisory, asset management, agro-yield, property investments and mortgage finance.

It’s been an extraordinarily difficult year for many. How have you navigated the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges it’s presented CBZ with?

The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled CBZ Holding to renegotiate its business view and its way of doing business. In this regard, the Group is working towards becoming “an Intelligent Enterprise” as it shifts from top-down decision-making by:

  • Empowering teams guided by purpose;
  • Performance driven by data and powered by technology;
  • Razing rigid structures that emphasise territory and control; and
  • Creating a porous organisation with modules that plug and play as unprecedented events evolve with the pandemic impact on business.

Bank Operations

  • Limited branches opened to the public for Money Transfer Agents transactions twice a week and other banking facilities were available through our 24hr Contact Centre which is equipped to attend to all Group issues as well as all social media platforms.
  • The Bank’s renowned mobile application CBZ Touch assisted customers to continue transacting in the comfort of their homes. In addition, the internet banking and e-platform facilities aided customer operations.

Staff Welfare

  • Focused on moving business to digital platforms to enable staff to work from home. Purchased more than 1000 laptops and servers and trained staff for online work processes.
  • Provided comprehensive end-to-end medical care and support for staff and their dependents affected by COVID-19.
  • To mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we organised virtual roadshows for staff under the theme “COVID-19, Work and Wellness”. The roadshows were an integral part of business continuity in reassuring staff to remain engaged and provide exceptional service to customers.
  • Provided access to alternative power solution options to all employees’ homes to facilitate the transition of the workplace from the office to the home.

Stake Holders Engagement

  • The Group donated an ambulance to assist the Health Sector with readily available transport for pandemic needs and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) worth USD50, 000.00 to major hospitals in the country.

Has the pandemic sped up digitalisation in the banking sector in Zimbabwe?

The banking sector in Zimbabwe had already embraced digitalisation. The challenge faced was mainly on the part of customers that were not keen to adapt to digital banking as they preferred visiting the bank for their transactions. The pandemic sped up customers’ adaptation whilst the banks took advantage to improve processes and systems for complete digitalisation. Some of the innovations that we introduced were:

  • Contactless VISA Chip’n’Pin cards were introduced to replace the magnetic stripe cards.
  • Introduction of Microsoft Teams to enhance information flow and collaboration among staff and with customers.
  • The Bank now has over 10,000 POS terminals across various merchants in Zimbabwe. The POS and iPos terminals accept both local (ZimSwitch) and international cards (VISA and MasterCard).
  • The Bank implemented a new internet banking solution, Oracle Banking Digital Experience (OBDX), which is accessible via web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla etc. OBDX is a modern, secure and user-friendly internet banking system that is complemented by an Android and iOS mobile application, it allows users to transact using their mobile devices and the application can also be accessed via Google Play Store and Apple Store.

Digitalisation is expected to result in bank closure branches in Zimbabwe in 2021. How is CBZ dealing with this?

With the uptake of digitalisation and most staff working from home, it made business sense for CBZ to close a number of its branches. We converted 2 branches to Money Transfer Agents for diaspora remittances collections and some branches were converted to Agencies. We are set to open virtual branches as we drive to reduce the approximately 42 brick and mortar branches we have countrywide. The first virtual branch is expected to be operational by the last quarter of 2021.

The pandemic sped up customers’ adaptation whilst the banks took advantage to improve processes and systems for complete digitalisation.

What do you expect for the rest of 2021? Do you think we can put the current crisis behind us?

When the pandemic crisis presented itself in the first quarter of 2020, it never occurred to us that we would still be here a year and a half later. Therefore, as a business, we continue to build resilience amid the COVID-19 pandemic through:

    • Managing risk, capital and liquidity.
    • Employee health and wellness.
    • Implementing client relief plans.
    • Preserving and creating value to maintain a strong balance sheet.
    • Effective communication across stakeholders and staff.
    • Supporting communities.

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