Barclays Bank, one of the only two banks we know about that still allowed spending on debit cards outside the country without USD cash pre-funding, has just announced some changes. It won’t anymore. Or, to put it more accurately, customers will need to have such spending approved by the bank beforehand.
Here’s the announcement the bank published today on Facebook:
Please be advised that usage of the VISA card for cross-border transactions is now subject to prior arrangements and approvals by Barclays Bank. Applications can be made through your nearest Barclays branch.
This arrangement supersedes any previous limits for cross-border payments the bank extended to you prior to this notification. All limits on your local Barclays ZimSwitch-ready debit cards will remain unchanged. You can apply for your local debit card at any of our branches countrywide.
For more information, kindly contact us on +263 4 250759.
You will remember that this is the same position that Stanbic took about a week ago.
Effectively, only one bank now, Standard Chartered, still allows spending on its cards outside the country without pre-arrangement. It only makes sense, that they too might follow suit within the coming weeks.
It’s not clear from the announcement what it will take to get a positive outcome from the “prior arrangements and approvals by Barclays Bank”. Our assumptions are that those who deposit USD (essentially pre-funding their accounts), those that are high-value customers or just those who have good relations with those making decisions at the bank will get approvals.
Barclays was last in the news some months ago when the bank’s CEO, George Guvamatanga, infamously said that civil servants and other non-exporting bank customers had no right demanding cash from their banks.
Barclays Bank can really not be faulted for this move, it’s just a result of the crisis of the past 18 months. Their customers who need to make payments outside Zimbabwe or online are left with little option – they can only either pre-fund or use a Stanchart account (assuming they already have an account, seeing the bank is no opening any new accounts).
Are you a Barclays customer? Let us know how this affects you in the comments below.
George Guvamatanga is a senior civil servant and the current Permanent Secretary In the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in Zimbabwe. He is the former Managing Director of Barclays Zimbabwe. He was also the president of the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ). Read More About George Guvamatanga