Zimbabwe Has Lowest Mobile Money Transaction Limits in Africa

Zimbabwe has been singled out as one of the countries with the lowest daily mobile money transaction limits in Africa, a development seen as hindering the growth of the mobile money sector and hampering financial inclusion.

A study by GSMA - the global industry organisation that represents the interests of more than 750 mobile network operators worldwide - revealed that Senegal has the highest mobile money daily transaction limit of US$5 320 (3 000 000 CFA francs), closely followed by Kenya at US$3 000 (KES 30 000), the Democratic Republic of Congo at US$2 500 and Egypt at US$1 903 (EGP 30 000).

According to the study, released in April 2020, mobile money daily limits in Rwanda are pegged at US$1 550 (FRW1 500 000) while Zambia transaction limits sit at US$1 000 (K 20 000) per day.

Mozambique, which is fairly new to the mobile money sector, capped daily limits at US$693 (MZN 50 000) and is encouraging the use of digital payment platforms, including mobile money, as a way of combating the spread of Covid-19.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) recently imposed a ZWL$5 000 (about US$61) daily limit on all mobile money transactions, among several measures it imposed on the sector in what it says are efforts to curb currency instability which the Bank says was largely being fuelled by the activities of some mobile money agents. The Central Bank has since banned all mobile money agents.

But according to the GSMA study, the use of mobile money helps the smooth running of economies and the improvement of the lives of vulnerable people, particularly during the global Covid-19 pandemic.

"In these times of crisis and despite the disruption caused by public preventive measures, mobile money has proven to be an invaluable tool for fostering resilience by facilitating safe and efficient money transfer and payments services," read part of the report.

"Workers are able to receive wages, the humanitarian sector is able to disburse humanitarian assistance, the agricultural sector keeps value chains open and users of off-grid solar services can ensure that their phones are fully charged," the report said.

The GSMA also encouraged countries to follow the examples set by the governments of Ghana, Kenya, Zambia and Rwanda that have enhanced transaction limits.

"This will promote the sustained use of mobile money by the SME sector whose participation had been limited on account of transaction limits. We urge other countries to follow this example especially since mobile money services are proven low-risk products," the organisation added.

The latest report comes as 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.

In addition to limiting daily transactions to ZWL$5 000, the Central Bank has also banned mobile money agents, restricted most bulk payments and forbidden multiple mobile money accounts.