Ecocash introduces foreign exchange in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe payment company Ecocash launched Smart Change Money, a service allowing users to transfer funds held in US dollars to local currency through mobile wallet accounts, The Herald reported.

Ecocash, owned by mobile operator Econet Wireless, received approval for the service by central bank The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe earlier this week.

It allows customers to transfer between foreign currency wallets to those using Zimbabwe dollars. The company added its charges were “competitive” for the service as it used the standard interbank transfer rate.

At launch, EcoCash general manager Natalie Jabangwe reportedly added the move was necessary to “protect the public” from high percentage transaction fees from some alternative methods of cash exchange.

In addition to giving the green light for international currency transfer to Ecocash, the regulator is also in the process of issuing formal licences for physical bureaux de change in the country.

The launch comes as Zimbabwe is embroiled in a long-running economic crisis, which led to it banning domestic transactions in foreign currency in June. It subsequently reintroduced the Zimbabwe Dollar after a period of rapid inflation.