Enacy Mapakame Business Reporter—
A woman in her late 40s looks dejected standing in a queue for over 30 minutes waiting for her turn to send money by electronic means. She wants to pay her monthly rentals through the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS), but the lady on the other end of the counter is doing things at her own pace, showing little concern for those who have waited long to be served.“I have been on this queue for quite some time now. The attendant takes time on one customer, most of the time on the phone, and we can tell it’s not business but personal,” complained Mrs Gondai Dzimunya, a small business owner.
As cash shortages bite, authorities have urged depositors to go cashless, but it seems the bulk of Zimbabwean banks have been ill-prepared for this transition.
Non-cash transactions such as the RTGS and Point of Sale surged sharply to constitute the bulk of transactions since the cash shortages hit the country earlier this year.
A snap survey shows that banks are not only struggling to cope with the surge in RTGS transactions, but also that their high levels of inefficiency are beginning to raise questions on the “real time” aspect of the RTGS system.
But the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe indicated although the public have been urged to use plastic money and there has been a surge in use of non cash transactions; such transactions also required verification to ensure their authenticity and protect customers.
Ideally, funds should start reflecting at the recipient’s account within 24 hours, after a meticulous verification process.
“In response for the drive for the public to make greater use of electronic payment platforms, there has been a notable increase in request for electronic transfers from the banking public.
“Banks are doing their utmost to ensure their customers’ request are processed in terms of the guidelines for real time gross settlement,” said BAZ president Dr Charity Jinya by email.
According to the BAZ, funds should generally reflect in the recipient’s account within 24 hours of the transfer request unless there are further validation requirements on the accounts or there are technical issues.
However, Mrs Dzimunya thinks otherwise.
“They (banks) are just inefficient, they are failing to manage a system that should bring convenience to the public.
“It doesn’t make sense to have one counter serving RTGS and have more counters for cash transactions when there is no cash,” she said.
Banks surveyed by The Herald Business indicated it takes 24 hours to 72 hours to process the RTGS transaction. Funds may reflect at the receiving account within the same day of transfer request depending on the receiving bank.
“Funds may deduct from an account but that does not necessarily mean they are reflecting in receiving account, it may take time. It is beyond our control, but depends with the receiving bank,” said an attendant at Barclays Bank.
Of the surveyed banks- Barclays, ZB, FBC Bank, Cabs, Stanbic and Standard Chartered banks, cut off time ranges from 9 am to 1 pm.
“In the interest of protecting customers’ funds, transactions are subject to verification, authentication procedures, both at the initiating bank and the receiving bank, which in some cases may cause delays.
“In such instances, customers are urged to contact their respective banks. It is also incumbent on the banks to advise their customers on the cut off times for same day processing of RTGS payment instructions,” said Dr Jinya.
According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, there has been a 9 percent decline in RTGS transactions.
In a weekly highlight for week ending November 4, 2016, the apex bank said the total value of transactions processed through the National Payment Systems fell to $1,312 billion from previous week’s $1, 371 billion on decline in RTGS transactions.
The central bank highlighted transactions processed through the RTGS system for the week stood at $1,06 billion, 9 percent below $1,171 billion recorded in the prior week.
ther electronic platforms such as POS however fared well growing by 36 percent while mobile transactions also increased 15 percent compared to previous week.