Access to financial services from financial institutions has often proved to be one of the major constraints to rural and smallholder agricultural development in Zimbabwe. However, the ICT revolution across the world leading to the development of branchless banking options has brought new financial inclusion opportunities in the rural areas.
The purpose of this study was to determine the role of branchless banking in smallholder agriculture through investigating the user patterns and adoption rate of mobile banking by rural farmers in Zimbabwe. Zvimba District was used as the case study while mobile banking was the branchless banking option investigated. The study also sought to investigate the barriers to adoption of mobile banking, in addition to laying out the difference between traditional banking channels and mobile banking.
A survey through a structured interview with rural smallholder farmers was the main means of data collection. The data collected was then used to quantify the adoption of mobile banking, the barriers to adoption, and the alternative financial service providers used in rural areas, making it possible to draw conclusions for the purposes of policy formulation.
The findings from the study revealed a high rate of adoption of mobile banking among the rural people. According to the study, even though mobile banking was cheaper and more accessible, traditional banking channels were still cited as being an important need for rural people. The significant factors investigated as creating barriers to adoption of mobile banking included age, education, income, marital status and farming experience, while factors such as gender and farm size proved to be insignificant.
In light of the findings, it was recommended that besides transactional uses, branchless banking should be further developed and enhanced to provide other services such as insurance services and credit needed by smallholder farmers. Furthermore, in order to enhance customer uptake, mobile network operators (MNOs) were recommended to consider a segmentation approach when extending services to appropriate segments in rural areas.
Dissertation (MInst (Agrar))--University of Pretoria, 2016.