Banks race against time to issue electronic forex cards

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe

from WELLINGTON TONI in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – OWING to recurring inconsistencies and uncertainties in a fragile economy battered by inflation, lack of cash and further weighed down by the coronavirus, some Zimbabwean civil servants and pensioners have not received funds to alleviate their burdens.

The failure to access the relief fund comes a month after authorities announced the pledge of US$75 each for the restless civil servants.

Pensioners are entitled to $30.

Beneficiaries have to open bistro accounts to access the funds.

With electronic debit cards denominated in foreign currency unavailable, the process to acquire one is tedious especially for pensioners most of who are now rural-based.

The money, meant to cover civil servants for three months, cannot be withdrawn in physical notes but only through electronic cards that can be used in shops.

The Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) have attributed the delay to challenges accessing the 300 000 cards they need for the exercise.

Ralph Watungwa, the BAZ secretary general, said banks were in the process of issuing the cards.

This is a rebuttal of allegations that the organisation was defying the government directives.

“Banks are in the process of producing the required cards. We have not refused to co-operate with the government,” Watungwa said.

John Mangudya, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, maintained hope the banks would clear the backlog by August 31.

“The Bank (RBZ) is pleased to note that the BAZ is seized with the matter and has advised that given the high demand for foreign currency debit cards, there has been a backlog on the issuance of cards and that banks expect to clear the backlog by 31 August 2020,” Mangudya’s statement read.

The central bank governor urged customers wishing to use their COVID-19 allowances but had no debit cards, to make online payments or inter-bank transfers.

The allowances were meant to cover civil servants following threat of a general strike as runaway inflation, at more than 700 percent, eroded salaries.

– CAJ News

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