Cash-strapped Zimbabwe 'throttles' DStv payments

Harare – Pay-TV provider MultiChoice Zimbabwe is putting in place alternative payment platforms following the halting of mobile money and other bank payment options for DStv subscriptions in the country.

The pay-TV service provider is among businesses singled out by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya for alleged excessive and non-priority utilisation of scarce foreign currency resources in the country.

Mobile money platforms run by Econet Wireless and Telecel Zimbabwe have stopped processing of DStv subscriptions in US Dollars.

Econet Wireless’ EcoCash has however turned to rand wallet technology, which enables users to convert their funds into South African currency for payment.

“The RBZ statement highlighted all current foreign outflows of which we are one,” Elizabeth Dziva, spokesperson for MultiChoice Zimbabwe said.

She added that “in a bid to provide convenience for our customers”, MultiChoice was now looking at other “payment options”.  

MultiChoice Zimbabwe; however, did not provide details on the new measures it was putting in place as alternative payment options.

But sources in Zimbabwe said this included working out an arrangement plan with more banks and in-store kiosks in major centers in Zimbabwe.

According to the RBZ, about $45m was spent on DStv subscriptions between July and December 2016 while spending on debit cards has also been high.

This has forced the central bank to put in place limits on Visa and MasterCard use-limits when outside Zimbabwe.

There has also been widespread speculation on what was prompting the decisions by mobile money and finance institutions that are terminating payment options for DStv subscriptions.

The Reserve Bank is instructing finance institutions to be strict on foreign currency utilisation by their clients.

“Banks are reminded to strictly adhere to the import priority guidelines to ensure that scarce foreign exchange resources are distributed to deserving cases,” the central bank governor said earlier this month.

MultiChoice Zimbabwe said: “The decisions were taken by EcoCash and Telecel for their specific reasons which we are not privy to. We can therefore not comment on third party vendor decisions.”

Telecel Zimbabwe said in a texted message to its Telecash subscribers that “due to factors beyond our control, DStv payments on Telecash will cease on February 28 till further notice”.

It further said that “all other services remain available” on the Telecash platform which also handles person to person money transfers and other bill payments.

*Fin24 is part of Media24 which is a sister company to MultiChoice within the Naspers group.

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