2 June 2012

Zimbabwe: U.S.$4 Million ICT Academy On Cards

INFORMATION Communication Technology (ICT) consultants, ECB, intends to establish a US$4,7 million academy before end of year to train banks on setting up IT systems that will improve efficiency and lower risks of fraud.

The company is presently procuring vendor specific hardware such as US-based IBM (International Business Machines) products while the expensive software has already been acquired.

It has partnered with London Stock Exchange-listed and FTSE 250 Index constituent, MISYS plc, to serve banks across the continent that use the Misys software solutions, with Harare serving as a hub. ECB consultant, Taurai Chinyamakobvu, said the academy would also train banks that run on ECB's treasury dealing system (TDS.) A TDS allows banks to efficiently manage treasury operations by offering a single entry point for all trades.

The system offers financial instruments such as money market and foreign exchange deals, as well as derivative instruments. "The main purpose of having an ICT system in a bank is to automate processes," said Chinyamakobvu.

"There are a few banks in town that have spent a few millions on systems that are not serving them well. Some of them have had to rip and replace their core systems, two to three years after investing in them."

Zimbabwe's banking sector deposits rose to US$4 billion recently from US$3,3 billion in January this year as public confidence in the financial sector slowly returns. "To play an effective intermediary role, banks need a robust ICT system. That system will maintain, coordinate, process and marshal bank balances, transactions, delivery channels, information, and so on," said Chinyamakobvu. "Without an efficient ICT system the modern bank would not exist. That is why many banks are upgrading those systems."

Customers have on several occasions been left stranded and frustrated after learning that their bank's IT system would be down or being revamped thereby affecting their ability to access their deposited money.

Said Chinyamakobvu, "To be fully automated, banks must have systems that detect and correct their own operational problems. But acquiring such a system would not be cost-effective. This means that the people in the banks need to check physically across processes, so that hiccups are detected before customers feel or see them."

Earlier this year, Agribank invested in a US$2,5 million ICT upgrade while ZB Bank poured in over US$3 million to enable faster processing of transactions and ensure quick turnaround time.

Other banks have also invested substantially in technological upgrades.

The project targets all banks in Africa that use Misys' core banking systems, in particular, Equation, Bankfusion Equation and Bankfusion Universal Banking, as well as all those that run Misys departmental modules such as Opics risk and Almonde for risk management.

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