The Zimbabwean Perspective

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Ecocash to lose it’s independence as RBZ demands it work through Zimswitch

This could spell an unsavory fate for electronic payments in the country….

Here at TZP , we could argue that every time we have mentioned EcoCash or Econet, we’ve also mentioned their various unstable relations with the RBZ and the government. EcoCash in particular has been having a heated relationship with the RBZ over the past few months due to the multiple changes being made to the country’s monetary system, and it seems as though that’s finally come to a head with the RBZ declaring that EcoCash (and other financial institutions including other mobile money services and banks) will be required to all operate through ZimSwitch in the announcement made below:

In accordance with the provisions of the National Payment Systems Act [Chapter 24:23] and the Banking (Money Transmission, Mobile Banking and Mobile Money Interoperability) Regulations, Statutory Instrument 80 of 2020 (the Regulations), the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (the Bank) wishes to advise the public that it has designated Zimswitch as a national payment switch with immediate effect.
All mobile money transmission providers and mobile banking providers are hereby directed to be connected to Zimswitch as provided for by section 4 of the Regulations. To ensure seamless integration, all money transmission providers and mobile money providers must complete the necessary Installation or deployment or commissioning of Infrastructure and connection protocols, credentials and documentation for connection to Zimswitch by no later than 15 August 2020.

John P Mangudya Governor 9 July 2020

And with that, the RBZ has esentially declared that every financial Transaction in the country run through a ZimSwitch powered national Switch that I think has even the most conservative of us raising an eyebrow. This isn’t a completely new move, a national Switch has been apparently something the RBZ has conteplated for a while now. But to say that it definitely wants to implement this at maybe the worst time possible might be an understatement. After all this is a huge infrastructural and economic change that is sure to affect at least some of us somehow, and whether positively or negatively is the question we all need answers to. There are definitely arguments as to why the RBZ would justifiably do this. Mobile Money transfers are the dominant form of trade in the country and having more control over them during this crisis is theoretically a good thing, but of course any Zimbabwean worth their ilk knows financial theories don’t hold up in this country and hence the expected conspiracy theories begin to rise up again among people. Whether they are true or not however is another question entirely, and we’ll just have to see how this all plays out.
Stay tuned for more coverage on this situation over the coming days.

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