Zimbabwe’s central bank imposed limits on the amounts banks may transfer via a payment platform with 2 million users, as it tries to curtail illicit transactions and money laundering that it claims contributed to a currency rout.
In a letter dated May 27 and seen by Bloomberg, the central bank’s financial intelligence unit ordered ZimSwitch Technologies, the owners of the Zimswitch Instant Payment Interchange Technology (Zipit) system, to implement daily and monthly limits of Z$20,000 (US$800) and Z$100,000, respectively, with immediate effect. Zipit is used by mobile-phone users to send money to each other, according to the company’s website.
“The limits have been arrived at cognizant of the reality that very few Zimbabweans earn more than Z$100,000 per day, and those who do have other payment options available for high-value transactions,” the intelligence unit said in the letter, which was also sent to the country’s 19 commercial lenders.
The curbs would remain until safeguards were in place to minimize the risk of money laundering, the central bank said.
Zabron Chilakalaka, the deputy chief executive of ZimSwitch, declined to comment on whether the platform had been abused.
“We have started engagements with our member banks to see how we can comply with the directive,” he said by phone from the capital, Harare.
The central-bank controls were meant to ensure that money flowed into the formal economy rather than illicit transactions, said Sijabuliso Biyam, the chief executive of the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe. “It’s a cleaning-up exercise meant to ensure that the quantum of transactions are in line with the market.”