In an effort to bring new technologies into the fold the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) initiated a Fintech Regulatory Sandbox. This platform is a sanitary and controlled environment that the central bank and institutions can experiment with innovations across the payments and financial space. There has been an update on the progress of the RBZ’s Regulatory Sandbox in the recently published Mid-Term Monetary Policy Statement.
“Since the launch of the Sandbox in March 2021, the Bank has witnessed 58 Fintech registrations on the online portal and an additional 14 applications at various stages.”Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe – Mid term Monetary Policy Statement
In addition to this, there are also 14 applications that are at various stages of approval. The portal where the RBZ is hosting the Fintech Sandbox has according to The Bank, seen visitors from 45 different countries.
Of the fintech enterprises that have successfully completed the registration process the largest share of users in Software and systems development at 54%, payments 17%, capital raising with 7%, and investment
management with 5%.
The glaring omission still stings
I have harped on ad nauseum about the exclusion of cryptocurrency startups and exchanges. As we have seen this year many countries are taking a proactive approach to digital assets and blockchain technology. El Salvador is the prime example where Bitcoin is now legal tender.
Additionally, the folks over on Wall Street are now taking crypto as a serious asset which has been the contributing factor to the highs that Bitcoin has had this year. With all these developments, Zimbabwe is being left behind.
At this point, many will say “cryptos are volatile” which is true but Zimbabwe should at the very least experiment with the concept on a national level. Our economic situation does not afford us the luxury of turning down even the slimmest chance that an innovation like cryptocurrencies could be adapted to our reality.
In saying all of that, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s (RBZ) Fintech Regulatory Sandbox is a good thing because it could birth a competent competitor to the monolith that is EcoCash. With financial institutions and startups meeting it could also see innovations that would normally take years to come to light being brought to market a whole lot sooner.
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