Plastic money boosts Byo council revenue

THE Bulawayo City Council says 80 percent of its revenue collections are now done electronically as more clients embrace plastic money in the face of cash shortages.

In his latest financial report, Financial Services Director, Mr Kempton Ndimande, said traditional manual payments at council revenue offices were on decline due to limited cash availability.

“The cash shortages had even resulted in the central bank (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe) promoting and encouraging the use of plastic money and other forms of payments like the use of cell phones and internet banking,” said Mr Ndimande.

“Currently on average council’s collections were 75 percent to 80 percent plastic money and other forms of payments as opposed to 20 percent to 25 percent actual cash.”

The report shows that the local authority collected $6.3 million last May which is a 21,7 percent increase when compared to the same period last year. The figure is 11,9 percent higher than $5.6m collected last April.

Mr Ndimande, however, said the challenge comes when service providers of the transactions want to verify whether or not the customers were using the proper consumer accounts to make such payments.

“The result of this was that quite a sizeable number of accounts paid from these service providers were invalid, meaning that there were some delays in updating of these accounts.

“The solution was that such service providers should have access to consumer accounts from council’s database so that when people make payments, there would be verifications of accounts so that account information from such payments would be more accurate,” he said.

He warned that service providers should not have direct access to the whole system as this might expose the data to some cybercrime.

“Recently CBZ Bank and Econet Wireless had requested for the accounts database from council and the trend was such that more service providers would request for such information. The information provided would include; account number, ID number, name and phone number. The account balances would not be provided so that the amount owed on each account still remain a private matter between council and the individual account holders,” said Mr Ndimande.

He said council was now running an integrated software programme that includes provision for electronic payments to enhance efficiency in the running of the system and moving with modern technology. The system, among others, provides internet access to review statements by consumers, automatic updates on consumer accounts, thereby offering convenience and data security.–chronicle