Yesterday we were greeted with the news that the ZWL$5000 EcoCash limit was being relaxed. Mobile money subscribers can now spend ZWL$35 000 a week which if they so choose, they can transact in a single day. There is however a caveat, transactions up to the weekly limit will be in batches of ZWL$5000.
News of this got a mixed response because, on one hand, people can now spend more a day. But on the other hand, these transactions will be done in batches of ZWL$5000 up to the 35K limit. The new rules are better but there are still considerable inconveniences.
The “lifting” of the mobile money limit (at least to my mind) felt like that regulatory grip on mobile money may be easing. That notion was quickly doused when in a speech to mark World Post Day POTRAZ Director-General Gift Machengete said the following:
“We would like to warn, all those unscrupulous elements who are conducting illicit activity using the various technologies available to desist from such. As we will leave no stone unturned in bringing the culprits to book. We applaud government for the various steps that government has taken to counter these nefarious activities which were driving up inflation rate in the economy and thus exposing consumers to various vulnerabilities.
We will continue to work hand in glove with our colleague regulator the RBZ to ensure that there is stability in our respective sectors.”
EcoCash has long since been the authorities scapegoat for the runaway inflation rate. The mobile money operator has faced one regulatory measure after another in order for the authorities to suppress it’s activity. The remarks made by the Director-General sound both like a victory lap as well as a reminder that the authorities will be keeping an eye on EcoCash.
To the first part (about the victory lap) the RBZ’s directive to make ZimSwitch the national switch is now in effect. EcoCash is now on the same playing field as the rest of the financial sector. This is something of a victory because they have finally brought the one outlier into the fold.
To the second part, whatever EcoCash does from now on is still going to be something that the authorities will be looking at. They feel as though they have the upper hand and the only way to maintain that is to, well… Keep at it.