Zimbabwe Pushes For Plastic Money Revolution

Zimbabwe – Schools in cash-strapped Zimbabwe would soon have to install point-of-sale machines to force local residents to use plastic money, the central bank chief has said.

In an article in the Sunday Mail, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s John Mangudya said he was pushing for a “revolution” in the use of plastic money.

“This is why we have announced that all retailers, wholesalers, businesses, local authorities, utilities, schools, universities, colleges, service stations and the informal sector are required to install point-of-sale machines,” Mangudya said.

A large proportion of Zimbabwe’s hundreds of primary and secondary schools are in the rural areas, where 70% of the population lives.

Few formally banked

Few of them are formally banked. However, mobile money transfer platform Ecocash has made inroads into this sector since it was launched in 2011. Similar platforms have followed suit.

Biting cash shortages in Zimbabwe prompted the central bank chief to announce a number of changes to policy earlier this week, including the introduction of ‘bond notes’, a local alternative to US dollars.

The announcement prompted panic in a country with not-so-distant memories of fevered bank note printing that culminated in the Zimbabwe dollar being abandoned in early 2009.

But Mangudya called on Zimbabweans “not to be afraid”. He said the bond notes were part of an “export incentive facility” and would not be printed in Zimbabwe.

The bank chief also told the Voice of America radio that there were more than 17 000 point-of-sale machines currently in operation in Zimbabwe “but they are concentrated in urban areas, mainly Harare and Bulawayo.”