Social media is a double-edged sword. That was pretty clear today when a hoax message circulated on instant messaging platform WhatsApp stating that NMB Bank, a Zimbabwean financial institution was facing curatorship.
The text message wasn’t phrased like a formal communication, but just a tip-off from someone with some sort of inside information.
To those who have NMB accounts and havent heard the news I advise that you move your money as soon as is humanly possible
got a tip frm senior manager that its close to go under curatorship
NMB Bank has labelled the message as a hoax and has sent a message to all its customers allaying any fears.
Good day. please ignore malicious messages about NMB circulating on social media. Our liquidity remains strong and your money is safe at NMB Bank.
It’s not surprising that the message raised an alarm, though. Thanks to the viral nature of WhatsApp it was shared in various groups making it hard for most people to ignore it. Some of our readers with NMB Bank accounts who we spoke to were seriously considering withdrawing their money.
The response might seem like an overreaction especially since the information was provided as a tip-off on social media. However, for Zimbabweans who have experienced the rough side of financial institution viability, it seemed like the smart response.
Since 2012, six retail banks have closed in Zimbabwe, and even before the country migrated to a multi-currency system in 2009, a number of financial institutions had been shuttered for various reasons.
The term curatorship is one that the average Zimbabwean now understands as “the end of a bank” and for those that keep their money with such an institution a loss of savings which are difficult to recover.
Social media is currently the fastest way to spread any sort of information, whether it’s been verified or not. With the popularity that WhatsApp enjoys as a primary communication tool, it has now become the application of choice for individuals pushing false messages.
In this case, the hoax was meant to create a run on deposits, something that would have been detrimental not only for NMB Bank but for other institutions in the sector.