Cash crisis: Zim’s payments system by the numbers

Cash crisis: Zim’s payments system by the numbers

HARARE, May 5 (The Source) – Zimbabwe’s central bank has identified the low use of electronic payments as one of the causes of the pervasive cash shortages in the country.

Long lines, tight withdrawal limits and ATMs running out of cash have become a common feature at Zimbabwean banks.

On Wednesday, the central bank was prompted to announce several measures, including revising cash withdrawal limits downwards as well as the planned introduction of local ‘bond notes’ to circulate alongside the United States dollar and other currencies.

Here is a snapshot of Zimbabwe’s national payments system, according to data provided by the central bank. The latest information, published in January 2016, captures statistics for the final quarter of 2015:

  • The value of transactions processed through the National Payment Systems in the fourth quarter ending 31 December 2015 decreased by two percent to $15.09 billion from $15.45 billion recorded in the same quarter ending 31 December 2014. However, volumes increased by 20 percent from 62.4 million to 74.51 million during the same period.
  • Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) payments made up 77.44 percent of the total value of transactions in the quarter, followed by mobile money at 8.8 percent, ATMs at 7.25 percent. Internet payments were 3.44 percent of total transactions by value, while Point of Sale (POS) transactions accounted for 2.83 percent and cheques 0.23 percent.
  • In terms of volumes, mobile accounted for 89.19 percent, while POS and ATMs accounted for 5.18 percent and 4.68 percent, respectively. The bulk of low-value transactions go through mobile, ATMs and POS.
  • The value of transactions processed through the RTGS system for the fourth quarter ending 31 December 2015 decreased by 7 percent to $11.7 billion from $12.6 billion recorded in the same quarter in 2014 while the volume of transactions registered a decrease of 19 percent from 561,600 to 454,907.
  • By comparison, the Zambian Interbank Payment and Settlement System (ZIPSS) processed an average 92,500 transactions worth $23 billion per quarter throughout 2015.
  • SWIFT foreign currency payments decreased by 23 percent to $1.4 billion for the quarter ending 31 December 2015 from $1.82 billion in the same quarter of the previous year ending 31 December 2014. During the same period, SWIFT foreign currency receipts also decreased to $1.26 billion from $1.64 billion.
  • The value of cash withdrawals decreased by 4 percent from $3.15 billion recorded during the quarter ending 30 September 2015 to $3.03 billion in the quarter ending 31 December 2015. The corresponding volumes increased by 8 percent from 2.9 million to 3.1 million, reflecting more customer counts for lower transaction values.
  • About $402 million worth of retail transactions went through POS in the quarter to December 2015, compared to $420 million in the same quarter of 2014.
  • Mobile transactions worth $1.35 billion were recorded in the final quarter of 2015, up from $1.15 billion in the corresponding period of 2014.
  • As at December 2015, Zimbabwe had 16,363 POS terminals in use and 556 ATMs. At the close of that period, there were 38,745 mobile money agents across the country.
  • By comparison, Zambia had 1,000 ATMs and 6,915 POS terminals at the end of 2015.
  • At the close of 2015, there were 2,365,160 debit cards in issue in Zimbabwe against 3,613,781 in December 2014. There were 10,854 credit cards (9,547 in 2014), 30,125 pre paid cards (28,881), 4.7 million mobile banking subscribers (down from 6 million previously) and 108,662 internet banking subscribers (78,548 in 2014), according to RBZ records.