Bank queues could get shorter if WhatsApp is utilised

Leonard Sengere Avatar
bank, charges

Earlier this year we carried out research that showed that there are at least 5.2 million users of WhatsApp in Zimbabwe. That means around 33% of the population uses the platform. The proportion is much higher in urban centres and accordingly lower in rural areas. With so many people on the service, organisations can and should utilise it to better serve their customers.

That is exactly what the Central Jakarta Immigration Department in Indonesia has done. They introduced a new registration management system where passport applicants can reserve queue numbers via WhatsApp. This is meant to cut on long queues and prevent middleman behaviour (illegal selling of queue numbers.)

To get a queue number one simply sends a message with their details; name, ID number and date of visit. A reply will be sent advising them when they can come in. Applicants then need to show up 30 minutes before the scheduled time. How efficient is that.

Now on to Zimbabwe. The title says banks but our own immigration department can use a similar system and indeed any other organisation from any industry. Banks just happen to have a current extreme problem with long queues. People are having to file for upwards of two hours. We all now know of a certain multi-purpose kitchen tool pitched at said queues by some funny characters.

Imagine having to arrive ‘just’ 10 minutes before your scheduled time and withdrawing your $20. That would be swell, wouldn’t it? Banks can adjust the 10 minutes as they¬†have a rough idea of how many people they can serve in a given time. If they know they have slow tellers like _____ Bank they can adjust it to 20 minutes for example.

It should not be hard to implement. For a bank branch that takes 2 minutes on average per customer and has 4 tellers it means they serve 20 customers every 10 minutes. Knowing that, they can schedule 20 people at 8:00 am and 20 more at 08:10 am and so on.

Customers would have to show up to the bank at least 5 minutes before their scheduled time. This minimises the chance that tellers would have to wait for new customers if they were faster than normal in serving customers. The bank would also need to allow for abnormal slow downs, caused by complicated transactions that need manager approval for example.

What about those users who are not on WhatsApp?

It would not be fair to leave them out and so banks could also implement an SMS registration system to supplement the WhatsApp one. With SMS being more expensive to use than WhatsApp it would still not be fair on non WhatsApp users. There might not be a system that is completely fair. If it is an SMS system only that would be better on fairness but not on pockets.

What about unscheduled walk-ins?

The biggest issue however is what would be done about walk-in customers that did not schedule via text. For a bank branch like the one discussed above they could leave 6 minutes between scheduled groups to cater to walk-in customers. For example they could schedule 20 people at 08:00 am then another 20 at 08:16 am. They would serve the 10 scheduled customers first, which would take 10 minutes then serve the walk ins for 6 minutes.

When the clock hits 08:16 am then they go back to serving scheduled customers and so on.

No regard would be paid to how long the unscheduled customers’ queue is. This way the unscheduled customers still get service and the scheduled ones get the convenience of showing up just a few minutes before service. That is a win-win in my book. The unscheduled customers would make sure to schedule first in the future which will lead to shorter bank queues.


Of course there would be further considerations if such a WhatsApp registration system is to implemented. The cost is a good example and so is system failure procedure. For our immigration department the job is much easier than that of the banks. The system already works for an immigration department in Indonesia.

Considering all this, do you think such a system would work? Would it be successful in growth point branches or just in major urban areas? Do let us know what you think in the comments below.






  1. Ash

    Impressive its up to TechZim to let banks know about it and it’s up to the banks to implement it..

  2. Anonymous


    1. My 2 cents

      I just waited 5 hours to get $40 and youre saying bank queues are not for a long time, which bank do you use? I do agree with you that mobile money should be used however after some key problems with it such as fees are resolved.

  3. My 2 cents

    I just waited 5 hours to get $40 and youre saying bank queues are not for a long time, which bank do you use? I do agree with you that mobile money should be used however after some key problems with it such as fees are resolved.

  4. Villain

    Nobody knows when these cash shortages are going to be resolved so we should get a solution pronto. There are legitimate reasons why people are still resisting plastic money. There are challenges like the charges that My 2 cents mentioned. Education has not been excellent, there is still ignorance and distrust. Then there is the whole issue of payments you can only make in cash.
    LANDLORDS do not want transfers. Neither do Kombis. Some do not have bank accounts or Ecocash. Some have that but just want cash. What can someone do. You need cash if it’s like that.

  5. Tendai Katsuwa

    Good one ! I hate queues

  6. Ian t

    This story is b@llsh!t. just like putting plaster on a gunshot wound. waste of time. the writer should think about joining RBZ to spin more crap stories!

  7. Kevynjr

    I think WhatsApp and SMS is a good idea and also people should be encouraged to use plastic money, though I understand the challenges with plastic money being the exorbitant charges leveled against these transactions by greedy banks who are supposed to be the leading players in regard to this issue. WhatsApp I think could be used to save time I think. Reserve Bank can cheap in and address charges on plastic money transactions.

  8. Sophia

    This is a really good idea.

  9. TenMa

    Well, l do agree with some of you except for a stupid few who always diverge and scoffs at those that have a stake in the invention of a change. I vehemently back up that idea, for what we urgently need as Zimbabweans is a better life for all. Let’s give a big pampam to such a timely ideologist.

    Sorry if somebody got hurt, facts are born that way.

  10. Intrigued

    I agree with… Zimbos like to queue… It’s our culture… If the banks don’t have money to invest in IT…. The can simply put a ticket system… Collect your ticket then come later… So simple your they simple don’t care… They just laughing at us all the way to the bank

  11. Robbie Savage

    Except they already are at the bank. They are laughing all the way to the vault.

  12. PaFeya

    Bank with slow tellers like ECOBANK!!!

  13. Makari

    There is no need for a queue in the first place- use electronic money.