I will assume you know about the digital gold tokens that the RBZ is issuing. If you have been living under a rock, get yourself acquainted with the details here: The RBZ’s digital gold coins are a good idea but may be undone by just one word – trust.
Now that we are all on the same page, it may interest you to know that today, the 8th of May, is the first day you can actually buy said gold tokens. To purchase tokens, you have to fill out an application form and submit it to the RBZ through Commercial Banks, Building Societies or POSB.
The RBZ says the digital gold tokens will be held in e-gold wallets or e-gold cards. We wanted to find out how one goes about purchasing the tokens and which financial institutions were ready to serve us. Here is what we found out by talking to banks and the issuer of the gold tokens, the RBZ.
Not really meant for transactions
Although the RBZ says you can use the gold tokens for day to day transactions, they are not really made for that. They are meant to be a store of value and that remains their primary use case.
Banks were not ready
Banks were mostly not ready. We got a lot of ‘let us call you back once we get the information’ responses. One bank played hot potato with our call, redirecting us a ridiculous 8 times only to give us a ‘let us find out and call you back.’
My absolute favourite was one that went, ‘are those tokens on the market now?’ I couldn’t hold back my laughter. Another thought I was talking about gold coins and kept insisting on it.
I understand that sometimes the information that’s in back room offices is not disemminated to the front desks in time but for some banks, even the back room offices did not have the answers.
CBZ admitted that they were not ready and said they would communicate when they have their ducks in a row.
From what we gathered though, here is how you go about it.
Buying the gold tokens
Offers opened today, the 8th of May and they close on the 11th of May. You will be issued your gold tokens on the 12th, if successful.
Do note that, the RBZ reserves the right to decline to sell the digital gold tokens to you. So much for inclusion. You cannot use borrowed funds to purchase the gold tokens, which is one of the things that can lead the RBZ to deny you. To buy…
You have to go to a bank and fill out a request letter/application form. It has to be your bank though. You need to have an account with that bank to be able to purchase gold tokens through it.
A prepaid USD card won’t work, you need to have a full current/savings account with a bank. It does not appear that you can use cash, although who would want to do that.
So, there goes your financial inclusion. No bank account, no gold tokens apparently. The banks that gave us this information reiterated that the documentation is not clear, they are not 100% sure that this is the case.
That said, some of them, like CABS, pretty much said, only CABS Nostro account holders can purchase the tokens for now. At the moment you cannot purchase using Zimdollars there but that is going to change.
Some are taking Zimdollars at Willing-Buyer-Willing-Seller rate +20%.
What of the e-gold wallets and cards?
Good luck trying to find that out. Most banks are not sure and say we shall see how that works when issues are made on the 12th.
The banks that answered the question said all they know is that certificates will be issued out. We just don’t know what form they will be in. Will they be PDFs? – surely they can’t print out certificates for $10 tokens. We shall see what form the certificates take on Thursday.
The RBZ says banks will be in charge of opening and running those wallets/cards and yet banks have – I feel confident saying this – done very little work in that effort. If indeed banks need to have the infrastructure ready by the 12th, then this whole gold token business is dead on arrival.
However, from what we gathered, it does not appear as if there will be any need for the wallets or cards.
We were told that one will be issued a certificate if the RBZ deems them worthy of buying the e-gold. Just a certificate, no special wallet needed. Makes you wonder why they were marketed as digital tokens if that’s the case.
Remember though, the bankers that told us this would not stake their lives on that information being accurate.
That in itself is an indictment on the readiness of banks. That uncertainty when the product is already on the market is worrying. They could be wrong on this one but if they are wrong, then it definitely means they would not have the wallets ready in 4 days’ time. It’s kind of a mess.
What about the 180 days vesting period?
You can redeem your gold tokens after 180 days (half a year.) This means that if you want to convert the gold tokens back into currency – USD or ZW$ – you can do that by selling back to the RBZ but only after 180 days from the date of purchase.
To note though, nothing stops you from trading the tokens on the secondary market. The RBZ says that is okay, same is happening with the gold coins.
The RBZ says many have not redeemed their gold coins from the central bank because some are still holding on to the coins as an asset and some have found ready buyers on the secondary market.
The same should work with the gold tokens. Although you will only be able to get your money back from the RBZ after 180 days, you are free to cash out on the streets, with the RBZ’s blessing.
So, if you decide to bite the bullet, go to your bank. Remember, you have to be an accountholder with that bank. Here is what some of the banks had to say.
- AFC (Agribank) – visit a branch and fill out your request, accepting both USD and ZW$
- CABS – visit your nearest branch, you have to be a CABS Nostro account holder, only USD for now
- FBC – visit a branch and fill out your request, accepting both USD and ZW$
- First Capital – visit a branch and fill out your request, accepting both USD and ZW$
- Nedbank – visit a branch and fill out your request, accepting both USD and ZW$
- Stanbic – visit a branch and fill out your request, accepting both USD and ZW$
- ZB – visit a branch, not sure about the details
The following banks have not confirmed that they are accepting gold token purchase requests.
- BancABC – will get back to us
- CBZ – says they are not ready but will communicate when they are
- Metbank – could not reach them
- NBS – will get back to us
- NMB – could not reach them
- POSB – will get back to us
- Standard Chartered – could not reach them
- Steward – could not reach them
That’s it. If you have any more questions about the digital gold tokens do ask in the comments section below and we will get to finding the answers.