Making International Payments in Zimbabwe Just Got Harder; Ecobank’s Visa Card Prefunding System Down.
Since the cash crisis, particularly USD, making international payments has been one of the most difficult things to do in Zimbabwe (quite essential considering how dependent on import we are). Only a few banks still offer the service but only on condition that you prefund the card with USD. Quite ironic considering that it is the shortage of USD within the country that brought us to this prefunding resolution anyway.
Of the few bank cards that enable(d) international payments is the Ecobank card but here’s some bad news.
Last week we received a tip which read:
Subject: Ecobank prepaid card
Details: Hie guys, I was at the bank the other day to make a deposit so I could but l make a few orders off AliExpress.
I was informed by the lady there that, as directed by the RBZ, there’s now a $100 minimum amount when you’re making a deposit into your prepaid USD card.
On top of this, you can’t use your pre-loaded cash to make payments online anymore without going to your nearest branch and seeking approval first.. approval to use your own money. But yeah. That’s my tip.
Please look into it if possible and maybe get us sensible answers from these people
This was basically one of the last possible ways to make payments online and with some of us our business depends on this ability greatly so eish. It’s tense now.
We went on to go verify these facts with Ecobank only to discover that their prefunding service was actually down, in fact it has been for a while. It’s difficult to tell how long a while it has been since one branch told us that since the 8th of December 2017 while the other said since the 20th of the same month last year.
Efforts of getting the rest of the details verified hasn’t been too fruitful for one or two reasons. The details that still need verification are:
i) is the $100 minimum mentioned in the tip an RBZ initiative indeed or some cover up story by the bank?
ii) Is it true that you now need approval from and by the bank to make international payments?
It is in fact because of this lack of detail that the article hadn’t been published but then again the fact that the prefunding system is down is something that affects a number of people so I figured you might want to know this in the meantime, so I posted this. After all, technology and the internet are beautiful in that the article can continue to be updated as more information is acquired.
It is still unclear when the prefunding system for the Ecobank card will be up again (if at all), but one of the assistants at the bank confirmed that if you already have funds in the card, you can still use them normally since you won’t be affected by the prefunding system.