Zimbabwean banks begin restricting Telegraphic Transfers (Updates)

L.S.M Kabweza Avatar
SI, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, RBZ Blocked Funds

Banks in Zimbabwe have began restricting Telegraphic Transfers (TTs). TTS are money transfers from a Zimbabwean bank account to bank account outside the country. The development has come swiftly after the announcement of the introduction of new Bond Notes local currency by the government this month.

Customers of banks have complained on social media and other platforms that their banks have notified them their bank debit cards can no longer be used outside the country. An example is this notice from NMB sent out to customers announcing the restriction of Visa card use:

We have also been told that some Zimbabweans needing to transfer money outside the country for various purposes through TTs have been disappointed to find that their bank is either taking longer than usual for the money to go through, or is not doing TTs at all.

Some banks have said that they have stopped altogether providing the TT facility until; further notice. Some are telling their customers to wait at least 3 weeks after initiating a TT for it to go through, while other banks are just telling customers they can’t determine the time these outbound transactions will take to go through as it’s dependent on the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

Speaking to sources inside the banking industry we are told that NMB’s suspension of the outside Zim Visa transactions is probably a result of Visa itself throttling transactions on cards issued by Zimbabwean banks as opposed to the banks (or the RBZ) limiting the facility. On why they would do this, we are told Zimbabwe may be entering risky zone category because of the recent developments resulting in global financial institutions guarding themselves from the possibility of Zimbabwean banks not settling against transactions made by customers.

What’s been the experience at your bank?

– We have spoken to people at FBC that have told us their Prepaid Mastercard is working normally.
– We have also spoke to people that have confirmed that they are able to use their EcoCash Mastercards with no problem.
– One bank we have spoken to has told us that Nostro accounts held offshore by Zimbabwean banks are poorly funded causing the problems with TTs. According to him some local banks have had their Nostro accounts closed for non-compliance. An example is Commerzbank, that closed nostros for all Zim banks.

– An initial version of the article gave the impression that a technical problem with NMB’s VISA platform which prevented people from transacting outside Zimbabwe using the VISA card, for a number of days last week, was a sign a deeper problems with banks locally. This is not correct as the problem at NMB has since been fixed and customers of  the bank are transacting normally. We have since removed some aspects of the article that referred to this card “problem”.


  1. TSA-The_Serial_Analyst

    FBC: for TTs, they are saying you bring your $2,000 cash, make a deposit, and do the TT. It doesn’t matter if you have say a $20,000 balance already in your account. So guess the banking system has already been digitally ‘printing’ money as these are proving to be just numbers with the real cash not available!

  2. fourwallsinaroom

    I usually love your articles but this strikes me as a click bait article in the sense. I felt some sensationalizing on your part this time round but thats my opinion.

    The reason I say this is because
    1. You cite one example which is NMB. There is no other bank that has issued this notice so far as far as I can see.
    2. There is no mention of Ecocash Mastercard – the majority of people have access to this card, so have you confirmed with them if there are any issues. Last time I used my Ecocash Debit Card in RSA it swiped through no problems.
    3. Lets talk about CBZ, Standard Bank, Stanbic and Barclays. The reason I say this is because we know CBZ is the richest local bank in terms of cash and the other three are international banks that import cash on a regular basis.
    4. No mention of FBC prepaid debit card either?

    With regards to TT, the reserve bank provided guidelines around how TT’s should be processed. Standard Bank was very good about informing the customers of the requirements and the process takes no more than 7 days. Not ideal but its not impossible.
    I think for this article to hold water and to not send people into a frenzy, lets go over the announcement by RBZ first and then draw from experiences of people who are in RSA.

    Finally it would strike me as counter productive to refuse customers the ability to use VISA/MASTERCARD. The sad reality is RBZ needs people to go to foreign countries, and use the ATM’s there to keep the little physical cash in Zimbabwe in the country. If anything using a Card benefits the country especially when John Doe, draws 1000Usd and comes bac wiith it to Zimbabwe? Or am I missing something.

    1. G

      Since the reason given in the article is that visa is throttling zim bank issued cards then it stands to reason that all banks are affected so its a reasonable extrapolation of facts.

      1. No proof

        There is no evidence visa is doing this, that is speculation and trying to shift the blame outside the country. If it was visa then all banks would be affected, which so far they aren’t and local visa transactions also would be affected which also so far they aren’t.

        1. Anonymous

          On why they would do this, we are told Zimbabwe may be entering risky zone category because of the recent developments resulting in global financial institutions guarding themselves from the possibility of Zimbabwean banks not settling against transactions made by customers.

        2. tinm@n.com

          Local VISA transactions are switched through a local network owned by Barclays.

          Seperate from VISA International, as we call it.

      2. fourwallsinaroom

        VISA is not doing this. I asked someone who is using a ZIM visa card issued by SC and they have drawn 17800rands in the last 24hours. I think NMB did something that irked VISA and thats what got them suspended. Sounds like a good PR Spin for NMB.

        1. L.S.M Kabweza

          I have it on record not just from NMB from other “healthy” banks as well that Zimbabwe in general right now has a huge Nostro account problem. This may not be related to the Bond Notes but I’m also told we are now considered high risk from a anti-money laundering, countering the financing of terrorism point of view

    2. Anon

      While a lot of what you said is true, the thing you are missing at the end is that the RBZ does not have the USDs to move the money out to pay for the person using the ATM. We have fake bond money sitting in our accounts but with RBZ being broke it cannot be converted to USDs to move the money out to the foreign banks to settle the transaction.

      The bond notes themselves are not the problem, the problem is the government has turned real USDs into fake Zimbabwe ones, which is all good and well when you transacting in Zim but once you need the money outside the country they have no money to settle it.

      This isn’t a new development with the bond notes, it started with the bond coins, banks being forced to buy bonds in exchange for civil servant debts etc. basically the government has been “printing” digital Zimbabwe dollars for a while now and making the banks buy them for real money, which the banks are now running out of along with the RBZ.

    3. runyamhere

      You are definitely missing something, if you take a visa card to Kenya with $20,000 and use it all, the Kenyan bank will have a claim against Zimbabwean bank for $20,000. If you bring it back well and good but if you spend it then it’s gone. That is like paying for exports, you get goods and send out money. In a working economy the money sent out (imports) and money received (exports) should work to cancel out the effect.

      1. fourwallsinaroom

        I get what you are saying here and yes in the case you mention it is gone. The thing is this is Zimbabwe, and believe it or not people are already selling “real” currency. What this means is there is an influx of foreign notes in the country coming in. People are no longer only crossing into South Africa to buy stoves and fridges, some are coming to actually get money to sell. Whether that money is actually banked in Zimbabwe is another story.

        1. L.S.M Kabweza

          True, have heard USD burning has started already

    4. L.S.M Kabweza

      thanks for the feedback.

      The word “begin” in the title and the introductory paragraph was meant to communicate this is not happening at full scale since the only hard evidence we have is:
      – the NMB announcement (and at least 2 sources in banks advising that this has nothing to do with NMB but with poor funding of Zimbabwean banks’ Nostro accounts)
      – feedback from an individual I spoke to who visited 3 banks today (CABS, NMB and Barclays and was told they have suspended TTs, can’t predict how long it’ll take, 3 weeks respectively)

      I acknowledge that there are avenues that are still open, and I have received confirmation from FBC that their Prepaid Mastercard is working normally (not sure though after first comment to this article) and someone has confirmed using the EcoCash Mastercard. I’ll update the article with that information.

      1. fourwallsinaroom

        Ecocash Debit Card Working. Funny thing though, the lady tried to swipe via magnetic and it refused, then used the chip portion of the card and it worked.

        Thanks for clarifying, I did read the article a little quick.

        1. mhofu

          She should know Ecocash Debit card doesn’t use the mag from what i have seen, its only chip.

      2. Guest

        Guys I am in the business of importing stuff from SA using TTs with FBC. Just before the news of bond notes, TTs were taking 2 days. Since then it has taken forever!

    5. Proudly Zim

      Straight up! Was just thinking that same thing. Poor Journalism at work. Real journo stands on facts, actual facts.

    6. Sabhuku

      Do you think its still sensationalising? I am failing to transfer my funds from Zimbabwe right now.

  3. Itaitione

    Its nostro account funding. Fbc cbz standard barclays are able to work. But the issue now is that even when this happens somehow the gvt loves to import top of range vehicles.
    They should unstitute a procurement freeze as well,

    1. Shepard Maforo

      I tried do a T.T at barclays this morning and they said you can only do one worth a thousand rands.Am so disappointed.

  4. Nikki Kershaw (@MsFuzzyhead)

    Hi Limbikani – the Visa card issue at NMB was resolved last week. It was a temporary situation.

    1. L.S.M Kabweza

      Thanks for the information. Updated the article.

  5. Dillon

    NMB cards are back online again, i received a notice from them Friday 13th May 2016 that they had a technical fault and it was fixed. Since then I have made 3 payments online all were successful.

  6. tinm@n

    And it begins again…

    Return of the black market.

  7. Allaz

    Failed to use my SA Master Card to withdraw cash from a SOUTH AFRICAN account this morning at Stanbic. Actually as I was in the queue, the guard told me they are no longer taking Master Card, only local cards.When I tried it, it didn’t even give withdrawal as an option. Tried at Standard Chartered as well – same story. Foreign cards no longer work. Which makes little sense to me – since I would be withdrawing cash from an SA account, isn’t that actually bringing outside money IN to the economy?

    1. fourwallsinaroom

      For Mastercard withdrawals.
      I have only ever managed to do this at Barclays, (Once upon a time at Kingdom lol), FBC and Steward Bank (With Steward Bank if the wind is blowing the right direction it will allow you but if not then you are out of luck)

      VISA – Standard bank, Stanbic are your best friends.

      1. Allaz

        MasterCard had been working fine with Stanbic all along – I last used it fist week of April

    2. tinm@n

      VISA works on Stanbic ATMs.

  8. Paul Chavhunduka

    some one is building own us dollar reserves against the bond notes am sure

  9. fourwallsinaroom

    I think what should be investigated here with regards to the Nostro Accounts is how much is Steward Bank contributing. The biggest outflow of “petty” cash is happening via Ecocash.

  10. Happy Zhou

    OK let me actually tell you myself as I’m in Australia, I use an Steward Bank Diaspora account and it already seems difficult to transact with them. I had to try the card several times for it to work. My father afew months back (2 months or so) tried to transfer money my way because he had some medical tests that needed to be done. The bank could not send that money thru. It’s definitely true that the transactions have become more frustrating. If u compare the international service that banks here provide conpared to Zimbabwe transacting back to Australia. Zimbabwe needs to improve alot. They are way behind. I can understand the limitation that would result frommbond notes issued, but even before bond notes had been announced the banks had already started tightening international transactions. It’s disappointing when you want to do a transaction back home or to the Diaspora. Very disappointing!

  11. Possibility Tabatana

    The article (in its current form) is easy for me to understand since i also saw the original publication in the morning. I actually went on to call my bank…kkkk. However, I think first time readers will have a tough time following…
    I would have suggested that you scrap this article altogether since it has been proven to be redundant and not-so-true… but the discussions are great and informative.
    I guess, there is so much more to Techzim. Cheers!

    1. L.S.M Kabweza

      We updated the parts that are became redundant with the update on the NMB situation. The rest is not redundant at all.

  12. Anonymus

    No wonder…i tried withdrawing money and it gave out 200$ only i guess i will get another 200$ after 24 hours .Its barclays Visa card

    1. Anonymous

      I think you only had $200 in your account. Don’t blame the system. hahahahahahahahah

  13. Anonymous

    Well let me say I have been in Mozambique since mid march and am banking with CBZ. Have never had problems with my visa card, Actually I used it today to make payments.

    This NMB thing was just unique to that bank. The issue of limits may depend with countries. My VISA is working so fine

  14. Employee

    It is correct that the NMB situation is now okay. Both the debit and credit cards are working fine. The nostro issue is not limited to one bank. It is a national problem. Naturally, some have more money than others and can do two or three transactions more than the others.

  15. Sabhuku

    I have been trying to do a TT with FBC for about 2 weeks now and nothing has come through. If only they knew how desperately I need the funds.

  16. GodSaveUsAll

    Right now all the banks I know in Zimbabwe are no longer doing individual TTs as per the RBZ instruction. TTs are only left for corporates and they now take over 3 weeks to be processed and some of them that fall under categories that are not considered to be a priority might not even go through for an example those that are not for the importation of fuel, medicines, grain, some industrial raw materials and equipment, etc.

    1. manu

      then its sad.no more ex jap, zimra revenues ..ma1 chaiwo. so how are international banks affected by TTs.stnchrt is still accepting individual tts unless varikutivhara.


    Maone chaiwo ndarambita TT re x-jap nhasi chaiye. Back to 2008 soon. I have the money in my account but I am told the country doesn’t have money to send out. Its a shame.

  18. Anonymous

    I tr

  19. Honkie

    Just want to know whether Stanbic visa card is now withdrawing money outside the country as of now

  20. Anonymous

    Guys mangudya mavisa card achashanda here bond note zvarauya.im afraid of getting stranded outside

  21. Bhinikwa

    Please advice us which bank is allowing Visa/Mastercard transactions outside the country, its holiday season, we want to travel. Does the Ecocash, NMB, MBCA bank allow to be specific?

  22. mazie

    i would like to know the monthly limit which an individual can transfer per month thru online payments using debit card