Regulatory framework to rein in mobile money operators in pipeline: Prof. Mthuli Ncube

GOVERNMENT has vowed to come up with a regulatory framework that places mobile money operations under the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

Speculators have been capitalising on the regulatory gaps existing in the mobile network operators (MNOs) led financial services to conduct illicit and black-market activities at the detriment of economic stability.

During a post-cabinet media briefing held in Harare on Wednesday, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube said the recent High Court ruling upholding the central bank decision to suspend accounts of agents involved in speculative activities paves way for the RBZ to institute a regulatory framework.

“In many countries in the world where mobile money is common, it is usually bank-led rather than telco led which means that Central banks will be able to oversee these operations. In Zimbabwe that has not been the case hence the ruling gives us the go-ahead to further harness regulation of mobile money operations,” highlighted Professor Ncube.

The RBZ directive, early this month, was issued to combat alleged abuse of their accounts by many EcoCash agents who were illegally dealing in foreign currency, identified as a cause of the rapid rise in the black market exchange rate.

This followed the central bank’s analysis of EcoCash returns that showed that even the revised and much lower limits continued to be abused by many of the agents. In most cases, the value and volume of transactions undertaken by high-threshold agents were inconsistent, not only with their business profiles and declared line of business, but with normal mobile money agents’ business.

In Zimbabwe, the regulation of mobile network operators falls under the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) but a weak regulatory framework has seen their platforms becoming hotbeds of shady deals. – ZBC