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Here’s how to transfer money without paying heavy bank & EcoCash charges

   

Even after the recent downward review of the bank charges, the truth is that RTGSs (and people looking to access their cash have to make a lot of them) at $3 a transaction, are still quite expensive to do. And ofcourse EcoCash still charges the sender up to $7 for a $100 transfer to an unregistered number and a recipient $3 to cash it out – $10 transaction fees in total (see tariffs here).

The sad thing is that there’s a way to avoid these heavy bank charges. The awareness of how is just very low.

I hope this article is going to be very clear about how. If it’s not clear enough, please help me out by pointing out what I can simplify further or even just how we can help increase the awareness. Here goes:

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There’s mobile money service that almost all banks offer. It’s almost like EcoCash but it uses ZimSwitch’s ZIPIT technology.

What ZIPIT is and why it’s a big deal

  • Almost every bank has a mobile money service (you can call it mobile banking) that you can access via your mobile phone’s USSD just like EcoCash and Telecash. It’s a big deal for 2 reasons:
    • The first is that you can transfer as much as $10,000 to almost any bank account in Zimbabwe for just a flat fee of about $1
    • The second reason is that all transfers go through instantly so no more waiting days for RTGSs to go through.
    • You can use the service for other things as well like buying airtime and paying bills.
  • Each bank has a different name/brand for it but it’s just the same ZIPIT service at the core.
    For example, CABS calls it Textacash, FBC calls it Mobile Moola, at CBZ it’s CBZ Touch, at MetBank MetClick and so on. But essentially when you approach your bank, you want to ask them about their new phone USSD based banking. (don’t mention ZIPIT as some tellers will give you a blank stare – I had that experience at NMB.)
  • To start using the service you simply enable mobile banking on your existing bank account by signing up at your bank. Kind of the same same way enabled internet banking on your account.
  • If, however, you happen to not have a bank account at all, then just pick a bank and sign up for a mobile banking account. It’s not hard to get like the traditional bank account – they won’t ask for your grandmother’s birth certificate. All you will need is your ID.
  • Once your account is enabled for this service, you can use your bank’s USSD code to start transferring money from your phone.

Here’s the list of banks and their USSD codes.

BankUSSD CodeSend Money
Agribank*277#Yes
BancABC*242#Not yet
Barclays*229#Not yet
CABS*227#Yes
CBZ*230#Yes
Ecobank*245#Not yet
FBC*220#Yes
MBCA*299#Yes
Meikles Mycash*212#Yes
Metbank*234#Not yet
NMB*240#Yes
POSB (Econet)*223#Yes
POSB (NetOne & Telecel)*222#Yes
Stanchart*200#Not yet
Stanbic*247#Not yet
Steward Bank*210#Yes
ZB Bank*400*600#Yes

Updated 11 December 2016. Added Steward Bank to the list.

  • To send money, for example using the POSB service, dial *223# and select ZIPIT,  then select bank, then amount…

Ofcourse once the money has been transferred to you, you need to avoid withdrawing the cash as this will only attract the ridiculous charges by the banks ($4 I was charged by NMB last week for withdrawing $70). Use plastic money instead to enjoy the RBZ review charges.

Why you didn’t know about this yet

I personally think it’s because, even though this is one service – a ZIPIT service – the banks have different brands front it and they explain the service differently. CBZ for example are pushing the app angle very strongly. We hear NMB are planning the same.

Maybe banks should present consumers with the same message. Or maybe Zimswitch needs to do the marketing on behalf of the banks underscoring how this is the same simple way to transfer money. Or maybe, one clever bank needs to own the message and have the market all flocking to them.


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