Yesterday I got the shock of my life after walking into the Ecobank branch in Southerton. Despite the Ecobank branch having two signs, one of them a large lit sign showing that they offer Mukuru services, the security and staff inside the bank denied me service. According to them, they will not serve you unless you are an account holder.
I explained several times that I was not an account holder with the bank. I only wanted to collect cash that I had received via Mukuru. I have used this branch several times to collect money via Mukuru and Western Union. The last time was last week, so you can understand my confusion. In the end, they were a little annoyed but they kept their cool and said they were not serving people who did not hold an account with the bank.
I checked in the Mukuru app but it didn’t have this information. Ecobank Southerton was still listed as an outlet and there were no restrictions mentioned. The app is often confusing and outdated when it comes to stuff like this though so you shouldn’t take it seriously. For example:
- BancABC Southerton is mentioned as an outlet but it isn’t
- So is CABS Southerton which again is not
- The app says there is a booth near OK, the booth has been gone for months
I could go on but I hope you see the picture. They even show these booths in bold green claiming they had paid out money in the past few hours even though there are not such booths.
The remittances pie
Remittances are an important source of income to a lot of Zimbabweans and it’s a sector that has seen continual growth over the years. According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the country received over a billion US dollars in remittances last year.
With foreign currency scarce in this country every Fintech company wants a slice of this pie. When they are not jostling to set up their own remittance services they are in a race to partner with companies like Mukuru and Western Union. For example, CBZ has a whole branch dedicated to handling remittances.
What is Ecobank thinking?
Which makes you wonder what Ecobank is thinking. Unfortunately, I could never get a response from them on the issue. My entreaties to them never got a response. I was, however, able to ascertain that I was not alone. A number of people have reported receiving the same treatment from other branches. They were turned away while trying to use Ecobank’s Western Union or Mukuru services because they did not account holders.
This means that there could already be a change in policy although again without Ecobank’s feedback it will be hard to answer the burning questions that I have. Like what prompted this change in policy, because as recently as last week they were serving everyone. The only biggest change out there is SI 127 of 2021 but how does it apply here? Is this temporary or permanent? Does it affect all branches or just a select few branches?
For now, though bear this in mind if you want Mukuru and Western Union remittances Ecobank branches might not serve you unless you have an account with them. It’s possible that having their lite account will turn you into an account holder.
You should also check out:
- USD withdrawals now available at select EcoBank ATMs
- EcoBank opens up APIs to African businesses and developers
- How do Zimbabwe’s prepaid US$ card fees stack up against one another?