Zim’s economy on the decrease due to mobile money restrictions

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  • The mobile money sector in Zimbabwe has declined,
  • The RBZ has banned all mobile money agents,
  • The total number of active mobile money subscriptions declined.

Zimbabwe has been singled out for being the country with the lowest daily mobile money transaction limits in Africa, due to the mobile money restrictions, the mobile money sector has declined henceforth the economy of Zimbabwe is decreasing.

The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA) as the global industry organisation that represents the interests of more than 750 mobile network operators worldwide, their study reveals that the use of mobile money helps the smooth running of economies and the improvement of people’s lives, especially during the global pandemic of COVID-19.

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The GSMA study revealed that Senegal has the highest mobile money daily transaction limit of US$5 320, followed by Kenya at US$3 000, the Democratic Republic of Congo at US$2 500 and Egypt at US$1 903. In April 2020, Rwanda pegged the daily transaction limit at US$1 550 (FRW1 500 000) while Zambia daily transaction limits sit at US$1 000 (K20 000) per day. The GSMA also encouraged countries to follow the examples set by the governments of Ghana, Kenya, Zambia and Rwanda that have enhanced transaction limits.

Mozambique, which is fairly new to the mobile money sector, capped daily limits at US$693 and is encouraging the use of digital payment platforms, including mobile money, as a way of combating the spread of Covid-19. Zimbabwe recently imposed a $5 000 which is equivalent to US$61 per day on all mobile money transactions, and they say it an effort to curb the currency instability which was fueled by the activities of some mobile money agents.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe banned all mobile money agents, accused of participating in illicit financial activities in May 2020, this led to the decline in active mobile money subscriptions as recorded by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authorities of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) in the 2020 second quarter, the total number of active mobile money subscriptions declined by 2.8% to reach 7,457,662 from 7,673,201 recorded in the first quarter of 2020.

The GSMA commented that during these times of crisis and despite the disruption caused by public preventive measures, mobile money has proved to be an invaluable tool for fostering resilience by facilitating safe and efficient money transfer and payments services. However, following the ban of mobile money agents, the authorities in Zimbabwe have come under fire from various stakeholders, including farmers, the business sector, retailers and individuals, for implementing stringent and restrictive measures on the use of mobile money services.

The mobile money sector has a great impact on economic growth, the circulation of currency becomes more efficient with mobile money transfers. Therefore, African countries like Zimbabwe should maximize the daily mobile money transactions limits to stabilize their economy.

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