Call for phone firms,banks to extend financial services to farmers

15Apr 2016
Crispin Gerald
The Guardian
Call for phone firms,banks to extend financial services to farmers

FINANCIAL institutions and cellphone companies were yesterday challenged to extend their mobile financial services (MFS) to rural areas to enable farmers access reliable markets for their produce.

Deputy Minister for Finance and Planning, Dr Ashantu Kijaji

Deputy Minister for Finance and Planning, Dr Ashantu Kijaji, made the call in Dar es Salam when speaking at the official opening of the two-day Africa Digital Banking Summit (ADBS), which involved key players in the financial sector and mobile phone companies.

Kijaji said mobile banking services should not be centered in urban areas while neglecting marginalized groups in rural areas.

She said the mobile financial services in rural areas could help farmers to access markets and banking information, including loan procedures and investment opportunities.

The extension officers would benefit from the service as the system would provide the simplest way of purchasing the required equipment in the village and district levels, she said.

‘Both banks and communication companies should be responsible for assisting farmers with information on market prices,” she said.

‘They are supposed to create awareness for farmers and extension officers in rural areas to understand how to use such services in their activities,” she said.

Dr Kijaji noted that despite the fact that mobile banking in the country was growing at a fast pace, still farmers and local traders in rural areas were yet to benefit from the services.

According to her, the gap between urban and rural areas on mobile financial services could retard the country’s effort to shift to electronic commerce, hence authorities and stakeholder should strengthening service to rural areas.

The minister assured the public that all the transactions would never be hacked as the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) would be scrutinizing transactions under the National System Payment Act 2015.

For his part, the director for the National Payment System at the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) Bernard Dadi said mobile financial services had played a big role in promoting financial inclusion, thereby putting Tanzania in a spotlight.

‘The country has made significant progress in utilizing mobile financial services as part of the financial inclusion initiatives,” he said.

The director said the FinScope 2013 survey, which was released in April, this year, showed that the number of Tanzanian adults accessing formal financial services ha reached 58 per cent of the population compared to the last FinScope survey of 2009 where the number stood at 17per cent.

‘However, the low level of knowledge and awareness among different stakeholders is still a huge challenge,’ the director explained.

‘The bureaucratic nature of legal reforms affected the process of developing the National Payment System Act and related regulations,’ the official noted.

Dadi said the government currently expected to put into effect the new National System Payment Act 2015 in July, this year, following the President’s assent on it.

For his part, the chief executive officer of Umoja Switch Tanzania, Danfold Mbilinyi, called on financial institutions and mobile companies to unite in order to increase economy of scale and optimize outlet size.

The CEO said Umoja switch had managed to connect 27 banks out of the 54 banking institutions as well as expansion of 220 Automated Teller Machine (ATMs) across the country and parts of the isles.

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