RBZ designates Zimswitch as a national payment switch

By Staff reporter | 09 Jul 2020 at 19:20hrs
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has designated Zimswitch as a national payment switch with immediate effect as it moves to operationalise Statutory Instrument 80 of 2020, which enables it to control the country's financial infrastructure.
This means that all mobile money transmission providers and mobile banking providers will now be connected to Zimswitch as the bank seeks to enhance monitoring.
"To ensure seamless integration, all money transmission providers and mobile money providers must complete the necessary installation or deployment or commissioning of infrastructure and connection protocols, credentials and documentation for connection to Zimswitch by no later than 15 August 2020," RBZ governor John Mangudya said in a statement.
Though talk of a national payment switch has been ongoing over the last couple of years, the Government only sought to act on it now after the gray listing from FATF and the subsequent findings about irregularities on the Ecocash platform. To support the plan, the RBZ deemed all mobile money providers as financial institutions in terms of the Banking Act in SI80 of 2020. According to the SI, it is now mandatory for every money transmission provider and mobile banking provider be connected to a national payment switch. In addition, every money transmission provider and mobile banking provider shall open and maintain a bank account that is designated exclusively for mobile banking services.
A national payment switch acts as the front and back end processor that should be able to handle an unlimited number of devices, networks and host systems. The national payment switch has to be fully compliant with the payment networks it unites and fully customized for the processing environment it targets. This, however, should be easy to do as most mobile money service providers are already connected to the Zimswitch platform.
The new measure pools payment risks in one system which is designed to limit powers of autonomous or self-regulating systems, control money laundering and money creation.  A key benefit, however, would be the full interoperability of payment platforms such as OneWallet holder being able to pay an Ecocash merchant, and vice versa.
The major drawback of a national payment switch is that it does not spur competition, innovation, and efficiency in the field of electronic transactions while a system failure could bring all payments to a standstill.
According to the SI, where a mobile money provider contravenes the provisions, this section the Reserve Bank may in addition to issuing a civil penalty order in terms of subsection (11), withdraw the recognition of a payment system. Any person who contravenes this section would be guilty of an offence and be liable to a fine not exceeding level 7 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
No money transmission provider or mobile banking provider shall levy, amend or review any transaction charges without the prior approval of the Reserve Bank.



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