Spark plans to roll out 300 ATMs in Zimbabwe

“It already had nearly 40 cash machines installed inside shops, food courts and filling stations.”

SOUTH Africa’s Spark ATM Systems is targeting expansion into five other African countries in the next three years after successfully growing in Zimbabwe, where it has rolled out in-store cash machines.

In Zimbabwe, the company has plans to have about 300 ATMs installed in the next few months. It said yesterday that it already had nearly 40 cash machines working inside shops, food courts and filling stations, mainly in Harare.

One of Spark ATM’s partners in Zimbabwe, CBZ Bank, has previously said the in-store ATMs were able to accept cards from other banks using the Zimswitch platform, which enables cardholders to access cash from ATMs of rival banks.

An in-store ATM would benefit Zimbabwean retailers by helping to improve customer loyalty and by getting more feet through the door, offering the prospect of extra purchases from impulse buying.

“We have just under 40 machines in Zimbabwe already, and plan to be represented in another five African countries within the next 36 months,” Marc Sternberg, the managing director, said.

Spark ATM had partnered with Metacom, an industrial communications company, to keep “communication costs below R200 a month at each site”.

The company has more than 2 500 ATMS across South Africa and has managed to keep running costs lower than most, a situation that has seen its network growing by 50 to 60 machines each month.

Its network has benefited from services offered by Metacom, which include remote monitoring and control.

This enables the company’s contact centre workers to diagnose and fix problems, change configurations and settings, and reboot machines remotely from the office.

Most Zimbabwean banks, including CBZ and Barclays Zimbabwe, are revamping their product offerings and systems to improve how their clients access banking services.

This includes upgrading platforms for internet banking and installing hi-tech cash machines. Banks face rising competition from mobile money services such as EcoCash and Telecash, run by Econet Wireless and Telecel Zimbabwe, respectively.

Sternberg said last year that the company was keen to engage more Zimbabwean banks.

“We are looking forward to adding huge value to the banking business as we provide world-class standard ATMs,” Sternberg said.