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Zimbabwe Reserve Bank throttles DStv Payments and other Foreign Payments

by Milicent Atieno
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The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has ordered mobile money service providers and financial institutions in the country not to facilitate excessive and non-priority utilization of scarce foreign currency resources.

In a nutshell, the RBZ is shutting down all imports of goods and services it deems excessive and non-priority. One of the businesses importing services into Zimbabwe is South Africa’s pay satellite TV service, DStv.

This move has forced MultiChoice Zimbabwe to seek for alternative means for its customers to pay for their DStv subscription. Given Zimbabwe’s mobile money service providers and financial institutions no longer facilitate payment of DStv subscription bills. DStv is one of the foreign companies identified by the RBZ to be a non-priority and excessively utilizing the scarce foreign currency resources in Zimbabwe.

According to RBZ reports, between July and December 2016, about $45m was spent on DStv subscriptions in Zimbabwe. Spending on debit cards was also high, to contain the situation the central bank put limits on Visa and MasterCard spending for payments outside Zimbabwe. RBZ is calling on financial institutions to restrict foreign currency utilization by their clients.

Central Bank governor said, “Banks are reminded to strictly adhere to the import priority guidelines to ensure that scarce foreign exchange resources are distributed to deserving cases.”

Mobile money services run by Telecel Zimbabwe and Econet Wireless have ceased processing DStv subscriptions payments in US Dollars. However, Econet Wireless has resorted to Rand wallet technology, thus enabling subscribers to pay for DStv in South African currency.

The RBZ statement highlighted all current foreign outflows of which we are one,” said Elizabeth Dziva, MultiChoice Zimbabwe spokesperson. “In a bid to provide convenience for our customers” MultiChoice Zimbabwe looking for alternative payment options.

MultiChoice, however, did not disclose what alternative payment options is either considering or has decided upon. But others sources claim the company is working out a partnership with banks and in-store kiosks in the main centers to facilitate DStv subscriptions payment.

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