Harare – Zimbabwe could be turning to the rand after earlier rejecting it for official usage in the cash shortage hit country, with the central bank approving mobile phone company, Econet Wireless to start offering rand services for its mobile money wallet that has 5 million users.
A dollar crunch in the Zimbabwean economy has wreaked havoc for companies and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa said in parliament that banks limiting withdrawal of newly introduced bond notes will be probed.
The bond notes, which have same value with the US dollar, have run out in banks and the government has pumped in another $7 million this week. But this has not helped ease matters and Econet’s rand wallet has now gone live, allowing cash in and cash out services in the Rand.
Read also: Bond notes: Zimbabwe’s answer to cash woes?
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said the Rand wallet would further enhance financial efficiency in the economy. Zimbabwe currently uses a multi-currency basket including Botswana Pula, Japanese Yen as well as the UK’s Pound among others.
“Given that we are operating in a multi-currency regime where the Rand is one of the currencies in the basket, the launch of the Rand Wallet is a welcome development to further enhance the use and efficiency of the multi-currency system,” said the central bank.
Econet Wireless chief executive officer, Douglas Mboweni said on Thursday that under the Rand Wallet on its EcoCash facility, “customers are now able to either Cash-In, Cash-Out or make payments to merchants and billers in Rand”.
This effectively means that the EcoCash wallet now has two currencies, the Rand and the US Dollar which has until now been the sole currency on the platform. The government has sought to drum up usage of plastic money, mobile money and bank cards for transactions inside Zimbabwe.