EcoCash seems to have blocked Merchant to Agent transactions though it’s not exactly clear what their reason for doing so is at the time of writing.
The first hunch would be that this is yet another directive from the RBZ but if it is it’s a bit strange that the RBZ has not shared that directive publicly as they have all other directives they’ve recently issued to EcoCash, and ZIPIT.
We reached out to EcoCash representative to better understand if they had made this decision internally or if it was dictated to them by the RBZ as we suspect and they confirmed that it was a directive from the Financial Intelligence Unit.
The blocking of this transaction type follows a directive limiting the amount agents can transact on a monthly basis to ZW$100 000 per month. The basis for RBZs directive was because EcoCash lax regulation of said platform meant their services are being used with ill-intent to drive up parallel market rates. At least that’s RBZs view of the situation.
The blocking of Merchant to agent transactions makes it harder to use mobile money services since the only transaction type left for merchants to liquidate their EcoCash balance is the wallet to bank transaction.
From the FIUs perspective, you can see what they are thinking. Merchants change money from agents and RBZ has been saying some of the agents changing money don’t have up to date KYC information. By forcing merchants to move that money to their bank accounts instead – if the money is used to buy forex the RBZ will be able to track that “transaction”.
The only problem with that is this all makes mobile money far less attractive than it was before since merchants now have to consider how they are going to move that money once customers have bought from their stores.
At the end of the day, the FIU and the RBZ by extension are making it harder for consumers to transact as articulated in a separate article and this is not the solution to the root problem – which is simply the fact that Zimbabweans will never put their money in the banks so long as its possible that they will wake up with that money gone.[Update] EcoCash also confirmed that it’s not just the Merchant to Agent transactions that have been blocked but also the following;