The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) introduced more measures yesterday affecting EcoCash agents as part of what is now seen as a policy to bring EcoCash agents into the formal banking system and ensure they are controlled.
Banks holding mobile money trust accounts are now only allowed to let their account holders pay into those trust accounts and have to enforce the know-your-customer standards of the banking system.
The Reserve Bank’s Financial Intelligence Unit believes large money transfers by EcoCash agents are being used to fuel black market deals in foreign exchange and has already imposed limits on business the agents can transact.
In a letter to Steward Bank, the RBZ has directed that bank to go further in controlling transfers into EcoCash mobile money trust accounts.
Both EcoCash and Steward Bank are subsidiaries of Cassava Smartech, which has already launched a legal challenge in the High Court over an RBZ directive to freeze lines of flagged agents which the RBZ considered were handling transactions far beyond what normal business requirements would demand.
Now the Financial Intelligence Unit has directed Steward Bank, which handles the mobile money trust accounts, to ensure that all holders of such accounts are also bank customers and to stop third parties, those who are not account holders with the bank, from transferring money into the trust accounts.
The trust accounts, which EcoCash has with several banks, hold the money registered in customer and agent mobile wallets to ensure that these funds are safe.
In most EcoCash transactions, customers send money to each other within tight limits and there are no changes to the totals in the trust accounts. The RBZ is now gunning for the other cases where some individual is paying into the trust account.