The Lite bank account is dying, some banks don’t offer it anymore and this is why

Leonard Sengere Avatar
Samora Machel Avenue showing the Financial District

The Zimbabwean government will need to make up its mind on financial inclusion soon. Their love-hate relationship with mobile money and Lite bank accounts needs to stop.

In its never-ending fight against currency manipulation and resultant depreciation, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe often moves to promote digital channels over cash.

It’s a hard sell for Zimbabweans in the best of times, so when you consider the tax (IMTT) on those transactions, the transaction limits, the fast depreciating ZW$ and the hustle of opening said bank accounts, you can see why the RBZ won’t succeed in that effort.

There just isn’t any good reason to move from cash, even if it’s inconvenient to use at times.

We have talked ad nauseum about the lack of trust people have in their central bank. However, today let’s talk about the Lite bank account.

The lite bank account

Consider this, the true pioneers of the Lite bank account – Steward Bank – have since moved on from it. Many other banks no longer offer that account too and it all goes back to the RBZ’s policies.

I was on the market to open a few bank accounts and found this out for myself. I had an interesting conversation with some bankers who told me that the RBZ had been on their case for not taking Know-Your-Customer (KYC) seriously.

See, Lite bank accounts, also known as KYC-lite accounts, like mobile money accounts, only require an ID to open. Unlike the full savings and current accounts that require proof of residence, a payslip and a confirmation of employment letter.

This is why Lite accounts are (were?) popular because in urban areas where most people rent, getting proof of residence is a challenge.

Some landlords won’t sign affidavits, some won’t release utility bills, and some are subletting and cannot risk the actual house owner finding out about their arrangements.

Then for the majority who are informally employed, the need for a payslip and confirmation of employment means it’s either cash or mobile money for them.

So, the Lite account was crucial in the RBZ’s financial inclusion efforts.

Why the Lite account is dying

The RBZ went on a rampage against mobile money operators (mostly just EcoCash), accusing them of sabotaging the economy. The central bank had noticed that some money changers/forex dealers were using mobile accounts to trade.

So, since that episode, the RBZ has been torn on mobile money and Lite bank accounts. Yes, they allow for better financial inclusion and may help ease the demand for cash. However, some elements may abuse them and help tank the local currency.

“The Reserve Bank has repeatedly emphasized the need for every banking institution to promote adherence to the letter and spirit of KYC principles,” said the RBZ in a circular.

So, the banks paid attention when EcoCash was grilled for its KYC-lite situation. Then the RBZ started grilling the banks on their own KYC situations, claiming that economic saboteurs were using these Lite accounts to trade.

All while claiming to promote financial inclusion on the side.

Some banks, like BancABC and Steward, found this hounding a little too much to bear and simply stopped offering lite bank accounts. Apparently, the little business they got from the Lite accounts was not worth the headache of dealing with the RBZ and the Financial Intelligence Unit.

Cash economy

The RBZ is essentially telling the masses to use cash and that’s what the market is doing. If you can help it, you are not going the digital payments route.

I feel sorry for banks because we oftentimes hurl vitriol at them for being snobs when it comes to opening accounts with them. Well, the RBZ is to blame.

You would have thought that with the transaction limits placed on lite accounts, the RBZ would be satisfied that they are not being used to sabotage the economy.

Alas, they are busy abusing financial service providers about how Lite accounts are being used, demanding better KYC, which defeats the purpose. It’s ridiculous, if you ask me.

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  1. ridiculous

    any entrepreneur or there
    there just had be a better way for proof of residence
    now that I’m in informal employment it’s ridiculous
    when I was working it was way easier
    truth be be told I’m hardly touching or receiving RTGS
    so there’s that atleast

    1. Kobr∆ Kommander

      2 x .308 to both sides of the chest, to make sure. You have a volunteer

      1. Scout Sniper🎯


        1. FN FAL fan☠️


          1. 🔥

            No something a bit more exotic.

            1. Cross Bow Challenge 💘

              500meters into yards for MILS.

              1. 🦈

                2? I would empty the magazine on him. No one will miss him.

              2. Robert Barathian 🦌

                I want violence now not benevolence.

              3. Vybz Kartel

                Terminated dem

  2. Muzukuri wa ED

    Whats the difference between the Lite bank account & the traditional current account?

    1. CyberGhost

      With the lite account you have very low transactional value limits like withdrawal,balance you can keep…the KYC Is very lenient,all you need is your ID number to open an innbucks account in the comfort of your home

  3. CyberGhost

    It’s sad that we haven’t fully embraced Digital payment system to the fullest,in other countries,even street vendors happily accept electronic payments,all you have to do is scan & pay,here it’s not that simple, using hard cash presents a lot of challenges,(change issues, mutilated notes,fake noted….)

    1. wrong

      gvt interference actually brought it down. I mean we started with ecocash and mobile money before most countries… pioneering but as per usual gvt killed it and took the currency with it

  4. Gary@100%

    @techzim is it true that the govt is in talks with Starlink

  5. Online worrier

    Is starlink now operating

  6. Online worrier

    F de gvt mobile banking is the way to go but alas you need to open a non residential acc of a bank thats not in this country

  7. Black Facecr

    People will never trust even the normal banking system.NMB for example made people open current accounts which operate as saving accounts as they don’t allow their clients to withdraw all their the money or overdrafts without restrictions.The accounts do not earn interest . People feelcheatedbyt there is nothing to do

  8. Anonymous

    We’re being sent back to the dark ages by this regime. Whats next homing pigeons and hut taxes. We’re regressing whilst the world continues to leave us behind. Our mobile money and ecocash platforms circa 2016/18 were some of the best in the region. You could buy a tomato with ecocash. I remember receiving my monthly allowance from work via ecocash before mthuli decided to send us back 2 decades.

    1. Yoneni Museve🏹

      He is the Sheriff of Nottingham that one.

  9. The Analyst

    Enforcing the KYC policy is very important and has nothing to do with promoting a cash economy. RBZ is soon to introduce a CBDC, so what you mentioned about promotion of a cash economy is far from the truth

    1. Hot Ice

      That will have little to no effect/change
      Sighting power and network issues we currently facing
      Just like the gold coin brought no change to our situation

  10. Lightie

    Lite bank accounts are for us lighties..KYC should be for those who are loaded.really irritates me when i want to withdraw ka bhuru/waya kangu or less and I’m asked on the slip…”purpose”..🥺🥺 as if I want to use it for toil8 paper. Naughty me …at times I’m this close to writing ..”buying guka” . Perhaps I should try that just for the heck of it 🤣🤣🤣🤣

    1. Jb

      Is techzim closed ????

  11. Chihumbiri

    Ana pambwa , vakutibhowa manje, vakuda ma og accounts so that they can freeze our funds without notice,

  12. Admire Kamutimbe

    What it comes down to is a need for competent officials who do not temper with financial systems of the nation. We should be far ahead of many nations through mobile money systems.

  13. Scrii Scrii

    5 days no tech news….chii ko nhai Leonard?, kasi wasungwa? Kana usina data huya paden pangu ndine starlink

    1. Always Off Topic

      Eish… Can I come over, too?

    2. Concerned citizen

      Asi Techzim yakavhara here

    3. Muzukuru wa ED

      Whats happening at TechZim, you guys are now starving us of news

  14. where is the new news

    is this the latest tech news? almost a week now with no new tech news

    1. HE.

      It’s like trying to squeeze blood from a stone…..X

      1. HE.

        Lite bank account is dying Soldier Love is crying. Thanks for the articles. It’s not easy, I know.

  15. Nhengure

    Anyone can become a pilot, it’s not rocket science and even rocket science is not rocket science you can teach yourself anything. Courage, determination, cheerfulness in the face of adversity and no fear. At this rate we may get our Pilots Licence before that other one that has the examiner stepping into your brakes in the middle of a busy highway. P/S There is no mention of MATHs as a requirement. At the Ecology Corps Airwing, MATHs will not be a requirement although it will increase your chances. We want the best,and if you can stick the brick on the runway, communicate with AWACS, chase the tanker and refuel, pickle smart and dumb bombs, lockon, Dogfight, evade and innovate. #WeWantYou

    A. Privileges and Limitations
    1. What are the eligibility requirements for a private pilot (airplane) certificate? (14 CFR 61.103) a. Be at least 17 years of age.

    b. Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language.

    c. Hold at least a current Third Class medical certificate.

    d. Received the required ground and flight training endorsements.

    e. Meet the applicable aeronautical experience requirements.

    f. Passed the required knowledge and practical tests.

    Exam Tip: The evaluator may ask you to demonstrate that you’re current and eligible to take the practical test. When preparing for your practical test, verify that you have the required hours, that you’re current, and don’t forget to double-check all of your endorsements (especially the 90-day solo flight endorsement).

    Make sure you have totaled all of the logbook columns and that the entries make sense.

    2. What privileges and limitations apply to a private pilot? (14 CFR 61.113) No person who holds a private pilot certificate may act as pilot in command of an aircraft that is carrying passengers or property for compensation or hire; nor may that person, for compensation or hire, act as pilot in command of an aircraft. A private pilot— a. May act as PIC of an aircraft in connection with any business or employment if it is only incidental to that business or employ-ment and does not carry passengers or property for compensa-tion or hire.

    b. May not pay less than the pro rata share of the operating expenses of a flight with passengers, provided the expenses involve only fuel, oil, airport expenditures, or rental fees.

    c. May act as PIC of a charitable, nonprofit, or community event flight described in 14 CFR §91.146, if the sponsor and pilot comply with the requirements of that regulation.

    d. May be reimbursed for aircraft operating expenses that are directly related to search and location operations, provided the expenses involve only fuel, oil, airport expenditures, or rental fees, and the operation is sanctioned and under the direction and control of local, state, or Federal agencies or organizations that conduct search and location operations.
    e. May demonstrate an aircraft in fl ight to a prospective buyer if the private pilot is an aircraft salesman and has at least 200 hours of logged fl ight time.
    f. May act as PIC of an aircraft towing a glider or unpowered ultralight vehicle, provided they meet the requirements of 14 CFR §61.69.
    g. May act as PIC for the purpose of conducting a production fl ight test in a light-sport aircraft intended for certif i cation in the light-sport category, provided they meet the requirements of 14 CFR §21.190.
    3. Explain the statement “may not pay less than pro-rata share of the operating expenses of a fl ight.” (14 CFR 61.113) Pro-rata means “proportional.” The pilot may not pay less than his or her proportional share of the fl ight’s operating expenses with the passengers, provided the expenses involve only fuel, oil, airport expenditures or rental fees.
    4. The annual inspection for your aircraft is now due and you ask several friends that fl y with you regularly to contribute money to help you pay for the inspection. Do the regulations allow for these contributions? (14 CFR 61.113) No. A private pilot may not pay less than the pro rata (propor-tional) share of the operating expenses of a fl ight with passengers, provided the expenses involve only fuel, oil, airport expenditures or rental fees.
    Note: The regulation applies to “the operating expenses of a fl ight,” and does not allow for the sharing of fi xed or long term operating costs of the airplane with passengers.

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