- Daily transactions pegged at ZW$5 000
- No individual shall be allowed to operate more than one EcoCash line
- With inflation at high peak, the limit on transactions could prove inconvenient
On Wednesday morning, Econet subscribers woke up to a notice circulated by the country’s largest mobile networks provider announcing the new measures on the usage of its mobile money transaction platform, Ecocash which has become a de-facto bank for the larger chunk of Zimbabwe’s population.
Under the new measures, transactions by all individuals have been pegged at a maximum of ZW$5 000 per day with immediate effect.
“This threshold relates to all transactions by the individual including, payments to merchants for goods and services and payments for utility bills, send money and purchase of airtime and data, EcoCash Debit Card and wallet to bank transfers,”EcoCash said in notice to customers
For those who have been following a wide range of news and developments in the country recently, this was not exactly breaking news.
EcoCash’s notice came as an act of compliance with the orders put in place by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) following the presentation of the Mid-Term Monetary Policy Statement in the previous week.
In the presentation, RBZ Governor Dr John Mangudya said, “The forensic audit to assess the integrity, compliance and efficacy of mobile money platforms and transactions in Zimbabwe has revealed significant weaknesses in the systems of the mobile payment operators, namely Ecocash, OneMoney, Telecash and Mycash.”
Among the inefficiencies noted by the Central Bank are system infrastructure inadequacies and weak Anti Money Laundering controls, Connivance between mobile money operator employees and customers to delay or illegally bypass account freeze orders, rampant abuse of agent, super-agent and bulk payment wallets for purposes of trading on the foreign exchange parallel market among others.
It is privy to note that the government has been on crossroads with mobile money operators, particularly EcoCash which it accuses of fuelling parallel market forex exchange activities as the authorities battle to preserve the value of the Zimbabwe Dollar.
The latest move to curtail mobile money transactions where EcoCash enjoys the largest market share raises eyebrows as inflation is at a high peak whilst access to cash is still limited.
In the years of liquidity crunch, EcoCash eased to the top and become the country’s biggest payment platform with its system connected to banks and other business operations. It has also improved inclusivity of marginalised communities and groups of people like women and young adults who traditionally had little access to banks.
As ordered by the Central Bank, EcoCash also announced that no individual shall be allowed to operate more than one EcoCash line.
Meanwhile, Agents’ mobile money wallets are to be abolished and funds frozen in Agent lines will only be liquidated into the Agent’s Bank Account.
“The liquidation will require RBZ approval on case by case basis,” EcoCash said.
Bulk Payer lines shall be approved by the RBZ only for purposes of disbursing low-value payments such as disbursements for humanitarian aid and payments related to agricultural activities.