There is a lot that sucks about having a weak currency like the ZW$. I mean, this currency is not even internationally recognised. You can externalise as many bond notes as you like but they have no value outside the country.
The millions in your local currency account are equally useless across the border. You can’t send them to a bank outside the country, even as a joke.
This would not be a problem if Zimbabwe were some kind of self-sufficient state. Unfortunately, we are kind of the opposite of that. The list of goods and services from outside the country that we depend on is endless. I guess that’s the price we pay for globalisation.
So, it is no surprise that prepaid US$ cards are popular in Zimbabwe. Armed with a prepaid USD card a Zimbo can participate in the global economy as they see fit. Think you’d rather pay for Netflix rather than purchase a 2-piecer? A prepaid card allows you to spend your money as you see fit.
The question always becomes, who can get such a convenient little card? Zimbabwe is a country of the formerly banked, most of whom can’t be bothered to open an account.
Earlier this year we saw that even when it comes to micro, small and medium enterprises, 32% said they would not be opening bank accounts because of high bank charges and risk in banking in Zimbabwe.
As always though, there were many that said the whole account opening process is too cumbersome. That’s true but I feel we should give banks a little credit here, probably Steward Bank more than most for simplifying the process.
The introduction of Lite accounts came with a little less stringent requirements. Luckily, prepaid cards are for the most part more accessible than regular ZW$ accounts.
Dial A Visa
BancABC has long had the Dial a Visa program where you can call in to order a prepaid Visa card and have it delivered to your doorstep.
That is some convenience right there. When the driver shows up you need to have a copy of your ID and US$10 on hand. Half of that amount will go into your account and the other half is payment for the card. You fill in a form, send the driver on his way and you’ll be transacting with that card 24 hours later.
That sounds hard to beat even if the Dial a Visa program is only available in Harare and Bulawayo. In other towns, one still has to make the trip to a physical bank branch to apply.
FBC won’t discriminate against smaller towns
FBC joins in on the Dial a USD prepaid card fun but actually improves on what BancABC is offering. See, BancABC is offering Mastercard Virtual Cards and as such, there is no delivery to speak of. This means anyone from anywhere in the country can apply for these prepaid cards from the comfort of their home.
Instead of calling, one has a few options to apply. Says FBC,
People can apply for one of four FBC Mastercard Virtual cards – the FBC Ordinary Prepaid Mastercard, Business Prepaid Mastercard, ACCA Mastercard and CIMA Mastercard – via the FBC Mastercard App, the Mobile Banking App, or the FBC Mastercard Web Portal
So, one only needs an internet connection and they can get themselves a Mastercard, all without changing from their pyjamas. I should not say ‘only’ though, internet access is expensive and will be 61% more expensive in November.
Do note that at the moment you can only register using a Zimbabwean local mobile phone number. FBC says international numbers will be activated in due course.
Proof of residence
To note though is that with FBC you will be required to upload an ID and proof of residence in your name. If your proof of residence is not in your name you will need to upload a copy of an affidavit signed by your landlord along with it. Or alternatively, you could upload a confirmation of employment letter.
This is the hurdle that chases many people away – the pesky proof of residence. Millions of people are renting and many do not have approachable landlords and so getting an affidavit signed is a non-starter. Then with many being informally employed, the confirmation of employment letter is equally elusive.
So, as much as FBC’s order-a-Mastercard from home is great, it is not quite as accessible as the market needs it to be. BancABC’s prepaid Visa remains the king when it comes to accessibility as it only requires an ID and no proof of residence.
If the affidavit or employment letter won’t be a problem for you then here is how FBC’s Prepaid Mastercard Virtual card compares against BancABC and the many other prepaid USD cards on the market.
If you go with FBC here’s how you get started
Via a web portal
1: Visit the website at www.fbc.co.zw and select prepaid portal
2: Register as new user by providing the required details
3: A One Time Password (OTP) will be sent to your mobile phone. Enter the OTP and submit
4: You can change your password using the change your password function
5: Select Add Card on your dashboard and select the type of the card you want to add
6: You will receive a notification showing that the card was added successfully and the card number
7: In order to view the back of your card, and CVV, you can tap or click on the card and flip it and click to see the CVV.
Via FBC Mobile Banking app
1: Download the FBC Mobile Moola App for free from Google Play Store or Apple App Store
2: Accept Terms and Conditions
3: Click Start Banking
4: Register device by entering mobile number & OTP received through SMS/message notification (OTP will auto ingest)
5: Enter Pin
6: Inside FBC Mobile Banking App, click on the 3 dots on the top right corner and look for the “Products” option on the resultant Menu
7: Select Mastercard Registration and fill in the required information
Application Status will be confirmed via SMS Notification
N.B If you have the current FBC Mobile Banking App proceed to log in and start from Step 5
I tried this app and for me, there was a ‘Apply for an Account’ button on the first page. I clicked on that and picked ‘Mastercard registration’ from the options and that was that.
Via FBC Prepaid app
1: Download the FBC Prepaid App
2: Open the Mastercard App
3: Accept Terms and Conditions to proceed with clicking on Registration
4: Enter the Required Details
5: Capture the OTP provided to you on your mobile or email and click Submit OTP
6: Set a four-digit MPIN of your choice that will be used for future Logins on the App
7: Confirm MPIN
8: Select “My Cards”.
• Select “Add new card”
•Then Select Card type required.
• Select the product type.
9: A new card number is allocated for use by customer. There is an option to set a PIN for the card, maintain the card and view security card.