Yesterday Steward Bank unveiled its latest innovation. A new swipe machine that is aimed at SMEs (small and medium businesses). Branded Kwenga the little portable machines can be paired with a phone and come in two versions a smaller one that costs $35 and a larger one that costs $200.
This swipe machine is a lot like the Swedish iZettle machine but this one is a ZimSwitch device instead of a Visa/MasterCard one. The Kwenga is also less cute but it gets the job done.
A perfect solution for the masses and SMEs
One of the reason why the cash crisis is has been particularly stifling to small businesses is due to the cost of getting a swipe machine. Previously Steward Bank charged $35 per day to those who wanted to hire a swipe machine for a day! Most Zimbabwean banks have their own models of leasing/selling a swipe machine but all of them are pretty expensive compared to the Kwenga.
In order to further defray the cost of acquiring the machine up to five proprietors/businesses can share a single machine. This effectively means the smaller machine can cost a business as little as $7. Whenever one has to make a sale they initiate the sale using an app on their phone and the money swiped into the Kwenga goes to their own account allowing up to five users to share the machine.
No charges for swipes under $1
Bank charges and transaction costs are one of the reasons why people don’t swipe in Kombies or at Mbare Musika. After the intervention of the RBZ the costs are now lower than in 2015 but for smaller transactions such as $0.50 for a Kombie they add up and end being a significant cost.
With Kwenga customers are not charged for any transactions lower than $1 making it the perfect solution for vendors, Kombies, landlords, schools etc. Now there is really no reason for small businesses not to accept swipe.
When we mean free we mean all transactions under $1 are free you will not even have to pay the usual government tax of 5 cents per transaction. This is because in other news the government has also scrapped this tax on all transactions under $10.
Visit your nearest Steward Branch to get the device
If you live in the capital I think you can visit your nearest Steward Branch and get the device. It’s now an essential item in your toolkit. Experience has taught me that these things tend to filter slowly down to other cities, towns and finally growth points so those not in Harare might have to wait a month or two before they can get this device from their nearest bank.