Are Zim banks limiting Nostro account usage, deactivating Nostros for international use?

Leonard Sengere Avatar

My friends, I know it’s all you have been talking about. An image circulating on social media raises the question – are Zimbabwean Nostro/FCA accounts recognised as forex accounts?

Someone took a picture of a memo they had received at the bank they work for and it had the following heading – Local Nostro Card for International Use – Urgent Deactivation.

The memo appears to be an FBC one because it mentions Mobile Moola, an FBC product. Here’s the full text, if you missed it:

8 June 2023

Local NOSTRO Card for International Use — Urgent Deactivation

We advise deactivation of the following platforms/products with immediate effect:

• Direct load from customers’ NOSTRO accounts to the MasterCard Prepaid card EITHER by electronic means via the OBDX platform or manual transfers through the branches.

• Use of the MasterCard debit card product, inclusive of all MasterCard Debit Card products, that is Gold, Classic and the Business Debit Cards.

• DSTV payment via the Mobile Moola platform, the USSD Code *220#

Branches and all customer interacting touch points must take note of these developments and comply with immediate effect, taking cognisance of the following:

1. All deposits/loads/re-loads to the MasterCard prepaid card product must strictly be EITHER cash OR proceeds of an incoming Telegraph Transfers ransfers (TTs)

2. No manual transfers must be processed from the customers’ NOSTRO accounts to the MasterCard Prepaid card, going forward unless the transfers are cash or TT ‘backed’, with rigorous checks and balances being carried out.

Please be guided accordingly, update your e-database and note that a separate circular to enhance /strengthen the control environment required in the processing activities hr rolled out as a matter of priority.

Many thanks to the brave FBC employee who took the picture, we thought. Until we reached out to FBC and they rubbished the above memo:

FBC says it’s fake news

Customer Notice: FBC MasterCard Fake News

Our attention has been drawn to social media messages purporting that FBC Bank intends to deactivate MasterCard services and other USD based transactions.

As a matter of fact, the reliable FBC MasterCard remains operational for executing local and international transactions, online as well as on all Mastercard branded terminals across the globe. This is in line with the banks unwavering commitment towards ensuring the provision of a secure, convenient and reliable platform for anyone in Zimbabwe and abroad to transact using the FBC MasterCard card.

In light of the above, we assure our valued clients that they can transact using the following products:

• Gold Debit

• Classic Debit

• Business Debit

• FBC Prepaid Mastercard

• Business Prepaid Mastercard

• ACCA Mastercard

• CIMA Mastercard

We advise our valued clients to disregard the circulating social media messages.

We remind our valued clients and stakeholders that all communications regarding FBC are channeled through our official platforms.

For further information or clarity please do not hesitate to contact us on the following platforms:

Toll-free : 220 for free – 080 800 25 I 080 800 26 (for Econet Wireless Subscribers)

WhatsApp : +263 772 419 6931+263 772 152 6471+263 732 152 647

Tel : +263 242 704481 I 2 and 761198

email : help(a)

Skype :

Facebook : FBC Holdings

Twitter : @FBCHoldings

Linkedln : FBC Holdings Limited

Instagram : fbcholdings

Address : 45 Nelson Mandela Avenue, Harare

Then there is the BancABC one

There is also one that’s supposedly from BancABC. An anonymous source within the bank told us that it is legit but we don’t have official confirmation that that is the case at the moment. It goes like this:

Good day,

Please take note of below operational modalities on cash management for branches and Kiosks with immediate effect;

Cash Withdrawals

  1. Cash withdrawals must be done against cash deposits or incoming TT receipts only.
  2. Cash withdrawals threshold limits are as follows;
    • For cash withdrawal requests below US$500, approvals should be done by Branch Manager/Team Leader.
    • For cash withdrawal requests above US$500, branches should send request to Treasury Front Office for approval and attach customer statement
    • Kiosks should send all cash withdrawal requests to Roving Team Leader/Supervisor and adopt above threshold limits.
  3. Branch management should check and verify source of funds by spooling customer statement before authorising cash withdrawal requests.
  4. Cash withdrawals against RTGS incoming Nostro FCA transfers are prohibited.

Prepaid VISA Card/Mastercard Prepaid

  1. Prepaid VISA Card/MasterCard Prepaid deposits must be done against cash deposits or incoming TT receipts only.
  2. Account transfers from Nostro FCA accounts into Prepaid VISA Card/MasterCard Prepaid Cards are prohibited.

Telegraphic Transfers

  1. TT payments must be done against cash deposits or incoming TT receipts only.
  2. TT payments against RTGS incoming Nostro FCA transfers or internal Nostro FCA transfers are prohibited.

City Hopper Bulk payments

  1. City Hopper Bulk payments must be done against cash deposits or incoming TT receipts only.
  2. City Hopper Bulk payments from Nostro FCA accounts e.g. IPEC, NRZ, City of Mutare, ZESA etc are prohibited.


Organisation and Methods

Attack on the Nostro account

In both cases, it is clear that the Nostro account is the target. Although we will remind you that FBC says it’s fake news.

If it’s true like the anonymous BancABC source says, then there is a lot think about.

It appears that whatever forex is in a Nostro account should stay there. It shall not be mixed with other forex accounts, apparently.

Let’s all remember that the Nostro account in Zimbabwe is what other countries simply call a Foreign Currency Account (FCA).

Now, if what’s in that account is foreign currency then why are banks calling for it not to be mixed with the forex that they receive as cash when people load their Prepaid USD cards for example?

It is clear from the above memos that they consider the supposed USD in those accounts to be different. If A is not interchangeable with B, then A≠B.

If I loaned you a $100 note, I don’t care from which pocket you pulled out a note to repay me. It would be crazy if you said you had money in both pockets and I insisted on the $100 note in your left pocket. It would mean I know something about the notes in your right pocket i.e. they are counterfeit.

So, you tell me, what is actually in a Nostro account?

Summary of what the memos are saying:

  • The MasterCard Debit card, which is the one linked to one’s Nostro account is being killed off.
  • The Nostro account cannot be used internationally.
  • Locally, bulk USD payments using the Nostro account are prohibited (In BancABC’s case at least)
  • Transfer from a Nostro account to other FCA-denominated accounts is prohibited
  • Cash withdrawals from a Nostro account are prohibited unless the funds in the account were deposited as cash or received via a Telegraphic Transfer. If it was funded from RTGS incoming Nostro FCA transfers, then no cash withdrawals. You may recall that in 2019 banks refused Nostro withdrawals for a time

Why though?

We don’t know yet. Could it be that Nostro transfers were not being settled on time, leading to problems when the payments were being made internationally? Could the delays that people experience when making Nostro transfers be a sign that something is broken?

This cannot be an RBZ directive because it devalues the Nostro account. That creates a huge problem for the RBZ because this shift will lead people to offload the USD in their Nostro accounts. If we can even call it USD.

Who is willing to bet their life that there is still USD in bank vaults to support the balances in our nostro accounts after the banks’ recent move?

I would guess that it is MasterCard and VISA who are behind this move and I believe they didn’t come to this out of the blue. There must have been irregularities with settlements from Zim Nostro accounts to warrant this.

Listen, we are all shooting in the dark at the moment. We shall know what is really going on when the dust settles. Whatever the case, may you find solace in the RBZ’s promise from back in 2019 – “We will not raid your Nostro accounts.”

However, do let us know what you think is going on here. Some of you guys have intimate knowledge of what is really going on here, do enlighten us.

Also read:

Domestic USD NOSTRO cards: Seems like govt employees were short-changed… again.

RBZ Clarifies On Treatment Of Nostro Accounts & Forex Cash Withdrawals

We Will Not Raid Your Nostro Accounts- RBZ



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  1. Fanny

    Thank u Mr Sengere with the article

  2. Grandpa Rick

    Well considering our finance Ministers move to try and leak USD in the economy, the current move of banning international transfer won’t help him achieve his plans meaning whatever USD that is causing devaluation of ZWL will remain in the country.

    Correct me if Im wrong.
    Also they keep on making us mistrust our banking sector.

    1. Chingwa

      They are forgetting what led to the banking crisis in America. Everyone will be at their bank tomorrow morning to collect any cent which is in an account causing the banks to collapse

  3. Fanny

    🤣🤣Who is willing to bet their life that there is still USD in bank vaults to support the balances in our nostro accounts after the banks’ recent move?l am, myself willing coz there’s other time when heard Tendai Biti speaking saying that if we found that your account e.g my account, let’s say l have my money in my account in USD form the government will take it replace my money according to their banking rate in ZWL form Soo they is still USD in bank vault but lm not sure if the bank vaults support the balances in our nostro accounts, haaa lm not sure.

    I don’t know if I’m correct let’s here from others,but lm willing to bet my life.

    1. Anonymous

      The most clear thing here is the money reflecting in your nostro accounts cannot be matched by whats in their vaults,musanyeperwe mari vanenge vanayo just not ma fake usd enyu amurikutenderedza muma “nostro” accounts

  4. Everything is awesome

    Off topic again; I was time travelling through power cuts, aka sleeping, and missed the breaking news on that patriotism bill. My question is, what are the online implications of the bill in how outlets within reach like TZ and media hoses operate and how they interact with readers? Does it change editorial policy, does it compel them to collect and surrender identifiable info, will the privacy policy have to be updated, will the platform be held liable or just the poster, will moderation now have to include anything that mentions or alludes to the ‘G’ and ‘Z’ words?
    In a similar vein, what of ISPs?

    Just curious and not feeling threatened at all. I am absolutely not stocking up on even more virtual what what’s and things with end to end encryption! Not at all!!!

    1. Fanny


    2. Leonard Sengere

      We shall need to have a discussion on the implications of the Patriot Bill. We are still knocking on doors to find help understanding it. Thanks for the suggestion Everything is awesome.

      1. Everything is awesome


  5. Bounty hunter

    Mattress banking haina kuipa .. just play it safe

    1. Leonard Sengere

      National Mattress Bank remains undefeated, even with home robberies on the rise.

      1. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

        At least you can explain a robbery and, if you are lucky, you can recover your money. Not these legislated 10 year raids.

        1. Cynic

          You’re not lying there Imi Vanhu Musadaro.

          Funny – FBC’s rambling statement deliberately does not address the issue of how their murabadada of cards was funded – and that is really the meat of the matter.
          If being Zimbabwean has taught me anything, it’s that there is no smoke without fire.

  6. Hfjdk

    Bancabc have hiding behind the rbz claiming it’s a directive from them. The rbz are saying there’s no directive. Bancabc claim that cash deposits into nostro and transfers are coming into nostro are 2 different things. Their words not mine.
    Makes no sense because the sending bank had to have cash deposited first to reflect the balance which was the sent. So there’s definitely cash somewhere. I have been a customer for a long time and this was told to me 2yrs ago. They refused to give me cash through this excuse. When I finally showed that one of my debtors has paid cash into their account. They eventually gave it. The problem is with the bank.

  7. Mabhena

    I don’t understand guys. I think most Zimbabweans who get paid in USD get their salaries through these Nostro accounts. Only companies use them as actual banking accounts – the average person pulls out every single cent on payday. If people are unable to withdraw what is in their accounts then banks will become even more irrelevant

    1. Camarada

      That’s very true…

  8. Fanny

    Sorry, its like the article is big so l was just replying on some part, sorry.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Hi Fanny. They are not saying you were off topic, Everything Is Awesome is the one who was saying they were about to go off topic, which is okay too. They raised an interesting thing.

      So Fanny you have nothing to apologise for. Keep being you.

      1. Fanny

        Thank Mr Sengere, I thought he was talking to me,anyway lm fine now coz yesterday I was totally confused.

        1. Leonard Sengere

          I’m glad the confusion has been cleared up. And do know that you can go off topic if you want. We can still have a conversation about it.

          1. Fanny

            🤣🤣 alright

      2. Isaac

        The last sentence 🔥

  9. Anonymous

    Pane mari irikunzi haisi mari,physical uss cash deposits ndiwo arikunzi maUSD chaiwo but zvematransfer apparently katokamwe la currency futi😂😂i dont know much hangu but i bet there are some irregularities on settlements of these nostro transactions.i second the comment made by bounty hunter,mattress banking bhooo

  10. Sumisami

    Bancabc is not allowing withdrawals from nostro accounts. I have proof of being denied my withdrawal just yesterday because it was a local RTGS transfer. I am now stuck without money.

  11. Mthembo

    I suspect that the earlier purpoted statements from the banks are true. However RBZ could have forced FBC to retract or distance itself from the statement because of the fear that such statements could precipitate a bank run.
    Many factors are at play, the use of fractional reserves banking to issue loans could be another case. RBZ is probably not in a position to act as lender of last resort for Nostro in the event of a bank run. My bet is that the damage is already done and customers will be trying to withdraw everything that can be taken starting tomorrow and banks putting limits. By end of Monday or Tuesday it will be clearer whether Nostro is real foreign currency or not.

    1. Akyit

      You were correct.
      Domestic USD doesn’t have 1:1 cash or foreign Nostro backing.

      1. 20

        What you mean not one 1:1
        I have payments deposited into the account in USD at bank ABC kiosk no less than yesterday and the have sent a receipt together with SMS confirmation from the payee.
        This bank has to come out in the open

  12. Ridonculous

    We have to be clear bancabc is saying transfer USD nostro cannot be deposit can be withdrawn.they are saying it’s an rbz directive.if that’s not the case then can rbz issue a full statement together with can transfer nostro be different from cash as companies do we receive and make this rate I’m going to have to charge premium to get money out. How can we devalue the USD. If there’s 60% nostro accounts where’s the money.

  13. The Last Don

    From the way things are going with the Forex Auction rate very soon the RBZ (read government) is going to raid our nostro accounts.

  14. Chitima

    The sad reality is bank are now ring fencing real usd from the fake balances forwarded by the government…

    1. Bouncer

      Mabaya chaipo Boss

  15. xyz

    Please elaborate in layman’s terms this phrase “If it was funded from RTGS incoming Nostro FCA transfers, then no cash withdrawals” esp RTGS Incoming Nostro FCA Transfers???? Am lost

  16. xyz

    Please explain “If it was funded from RTGS incoming Nostro FCA transfers, then no cash withdrawals” how does this differ from Telegraphic transfers.

    1. Mike

      Rtgs means Real time gross settlement. An interbank funds transfer mechanism. So what they are saying is that you may not withdraw usd transfered from another bank

  17. Joey

    Vasina kuona 2008 mawanirwa nyasha!

    1. Fanny

      True ipapo🤣🤣

  18. 👽

    Mr sengere motombotipawo article yekunyatsotaura kuti ma bank anofambisa sei zvinhu especially pa rtgs transfer’s, coz i have a feeling pane leak iripo ipapo, hapana here munhu anoswera aripaka computer kake achingo typer ma number emusoro wake yotopinda mu banking system yato rtgs

  19. Anonymous

    Isnt it like when teachers were told to open nostro accounts to receive usd covid relief funds but couldn’t physically withdraw that cash yaingoshandiswa iri mucard

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