Zimbabwe: RBZ Places Mobile Money Platforms Under Strict Zimswitch Surveillance

By Alois Vinga

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has moved to place the country's mobile money platforms under strict surveillance by compelling them to join the Zimswitch platform.

In a statement Thursday, central bank governor John Mangudya announced the new directive which he said must be completed within the following month.

"In accordance with the provisions of the National Payment Systems Act (Chapter 24:23) and the Mobile Banking and Mobile Money Interoperability Regulations, Statutory Instrument 80 of 2020 , the RBZ wishes to advise the public that it has designated Zimswitch as a national payment switch with immediate effect," he said.

Zimswitch is the sole national electronic funds switch and clearing house specialising in processing domestic card-based ATM and POS and EFT transactions amongst member financial institutions in real time online.

It facilitates the common utilisation of industry infrastructure.

The system enables easy tracing of payment sources and recipients which makes it easier for the central bank to track down illicit financial dealings.

The current mobile money transfer systems used by platforms like Ecocash does not easily give access for the regulator to effectively monitor transactions.

Under the new regulations, all mobile money transmission providers and mobile banking providers are supposed to be connected to Zimswitch as provided for by section 4 of the regulations.

"To ensure seamless integration, all money transfer providers must complete the necessary installation or deployment or commissioning of infrastructure connection protocols, credentials and documentation for connection to Zimswitch by no later than August 15 2020," Mangudya added.

Zimbabwe is currently battling to contain spiralling exchange rates on the parallel market which rose to around 1:120 against the US dollar last month.

Authorities in the banking sector levelled the blame on mobile money transfer platforms, accusing them of not thoroughly monitoring the systems which were taken advantage of by illegal foreign currency dealers.

Market watchers have suggested the setting up of one national switch for all transactions in order to curb the market discord.