Harare – Zimbabwe might be struggling but the country’s citizens are a lavish lot, spending $206m on DStv and credit card payments in the second half of 2016, according to the country’s central bank.
The cash starved southern African country has seen worse days from cash queues inside banks and bank machines running out of cash. But they are fond of their pay TV subscriptions and use their Visa and MasterCard credit cards like nobody’s business.
Well, that’s how Zimbabweans are like for you although there are now fears that the government will swoop on this kind of spending.
“A substantial amount of the US$206.7m … for card and DStv transactions paid through the nostro accounts between July-December 2016 should have been settled locally and thus preserving foreign exchange for raw materials and other foreign payments,” John Mangudya, governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said on Wednesday.
The central bank chief said in his 2017 monetary policy statement that there is an urgent need to ensure that nostro accounts are used for foreign payments.
The central bank will also seek to move solutions to ensure that domestic transactions are settled locally through platforms such as local real time cross bank settlement switches, localising settlements on VISA/MasterCard, local mobile banking and/or cash and bond notes.
“Spending more foreign exchange on DStv subscriptions than on raw materials to produce cooking oil, for example, is not only counterproductive but also illogical.
“In view of the above, the Bank has directed all banks to ensure that the international card switches facilitate local settlement of local transactions in Zimbabwe,” Mangudya said.
It is expected that local settlement for Visa credit cards will “go live by the end of February 2017 while MasterCard local settlement will be enabled” by the end of this quarter.
Mangudya explained that this was critical in saving the much needed foreign currency and bringing about enhanced efficiencies for local transactions.
Standard Chartered is among Zimbabwean banks that have had to disable Visa card usage outside the country while Econet Wireless has also stopped payments for Dstv in US$ through its mobile money platform EcoCash. It is now giving subscribers the option of concerting their money into rand and effecting payment through the SA currency.