Zimbabweans living in South Africa, both banked and unbanked, can now access free mobile transacting and basic insurance services through the launch of the AMA.ZING Diaspora solution in South Africa.

The solution, developed by the Zing Group, enables people living in South Africa to buy products and pay bills in Zimbabwe using AMA.ZING digital coins paid for in South African rands.

“We view this product as a game-changer that will not only help realise financial inclusion for emerging markets, but also disrupt the current status quo in the financial services and money remittance sector,” says Hebert Banhire, AMA.ZING Head of Zimbabwean Diaspora South Africa.

He reveals that, in the formal sector alone, $785-million was remitted from SA to Zimbabwe between January and November 2017.

“The average monetary value of these transfers was around R1 200. And while there are many money transfer businesses available, the cost of using these services in South Africa is very expensive, with official average fees reported at 16.71%. The reality on the ground, however, is closer to between 20% and 40% of the total transfer of money being remitted across the border.

“When looking at the sheer volume of money Zimbabweans are spending on sending money across the border and the extent to which they are being exploited, it became clear that we needed to find a solution,” Banhire adds.

This solution comes in the form of the AMA.ZING mobile app, which users can download for free. They then purchase US dollar-linked AMA.ZING Coins, either by cash or by bank account, and redeem these coins against purchases or bills which need to be paid in Zimbabwe. All users qualify to receive free life cover rewards as well as CashBack rewards.

This is the first time that people living in South Africa can buy insurance in Zimbabwe from across the border – a unique value proposition, made all the stronger by Swiss Re’s support.

Zing Coins can be purchased in app using a bank card, Snapscan app or Zapper app, or in cash from one of more than 100,000 till points around South Africa, found across a wide range of stores, with PEP and Pick n’ Pay already available. More stores will be available soon.

“Pay@, which covers over 100 000 retail locations, will be the primary payment provider for AMA.ZING. This means AMA.ZING members will have the ease and convenience of multiple retailers and user-friendly mobile applications to fund their AMA.ZING account. Pay@ is excited to be part of this innovative initiative and looks forward to expanding our payment options across the rest of Africa,” says Hennie Blignaut, Senior Sales Consultant from Pay@.

Users only need to supply their name and mobile number in order to register on the app and do not need a bank account. “This is critical for the 3,5-million Zimbabweans living in South Africa – of which just 25% are banked formally,” says Banhire.

For these individuals, the basic act of sending money home – usually done by sending cash across the border on a taxi – is not only extremely difficult, but also a major security risk.

Now, through the AMA.ZING app, vital products and services can be purchased in real-time, safely and securely from across the border. This naturally also gives the sender control over what the money they send home is spent on.

“We are incredibly excited about the massive impact this product will have on the day-to-day lives of both those Zimbabweans living in South Africa, as well as those back in Zimbabwe who are so reliant on monetary support from their relatives in South Africa,” Banhire says.