Online payments surge as cash crunch bites

HARARE, – Zimbabweans are increasingly turning to online payment systems as the country continues to suffer from cash shortages, data from the central bank shows.

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Online payments surge as cash crunch bites

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Although the total value of transactions processed through the National Payment System (NPS) declined by 7,15 percent, to close the week ending January 9,  at billion,  transactions processed through the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system amounted to 5 million.

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“RTGS payments continued to dominate the NPS, accounting for 81,9 percent of the total value of transactions processed through the system,” said the central bank in a weekly economic report.

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The report also noted that Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), Point of Sale (POS) and cheque transactions, accounted for 8,5 percent, 6,6 percent and  2,8 percent respectively.

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The latest development comes at a time when citizens in the southern African country are slowly embracing new bond coins introduced by the central bank on December 18 last year.

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The coins – in denominations of one, five, 10, and 25 cents – were introduced as part of measures to tackle the crippling cash crisis in the economy.

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However, government has been at pains to explain that the coins,  minted in South Africa, are merely to plug a small change gap which is driving up prices.

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The government was forced to ditch its worthless local currency in February 2009 after it was ravaged by inflation which topped 500 billion percent according to the World Bank, for the US Dollar and the South African Rand among other currencies.

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While the move ended hyperinflation, it caused cash flow problems and the shortage of foreign currency in the country has deterred many Zimbabweans from depositing their money into banks.

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Last year, the cash-crisis witnessed several depositors failing to withdraw their money from some locally-owned banks.