HomeBusiness$1m now available from ATMs

$1m now available from ATMs

Ngoni Chanakira

FOR some it is their lifetime savings, while for others it simply takes seconds to withdraw from the automated teller machine (ATM).



tica, sans-serif”>Times have changed in the country and Zimbabwean commercial banks are now allowing customers to withdraw $1 million a day from the ATM.


The minimum wage for domestic workers in Zimbabwe is about $90 000, while the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) is agitating for a monthly minimum wage of $861 000.


In one transaction therefore such individuals can withdraw their salaries from the ATM.


The majority of working Zimbabweans fall into this category as they take home far less than the $1 million now being offered at the ATMs.


“We decided to increase our withdrawals from $90 000 to $1 million because it was inconveniencing our customers,” Standard Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd (Stanbic) boss Pindie Nyandoro told businessdigest in an interview.


“As you know $90 000 does not go a long way these days and customers had to keep coming into our banking halls especially at month-ends. We also decided to increase our ATM allowances in step with Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono’s statement telling us to do away with restrictions on cash withdrawals. It was a matter of time and we did this at such a late stage because our information technology system was still being updated.”


Gono last month told commercial banks to remove restrictions on cash withdrawals introduced when the parallel market was at its highest levels last year.


Individuals had become accustomed to carrying large amounts of cash in their vehicle boots to be able to snap up whatever came their way, especially foreign currency.


The currency was later resold.

Gono said the nation’s economic fundamentals were now getting back on track and individuals should be allowed to control their own transactions.

Century Holdings Ltd group chief economist Moses Chundu said the move would not increase inflation as not many individuals could afford to withdraw $1 million every day of the month.


He said it was more of a convenience rather than too much cash chasing few goods on the streets.


“Our dollar is no longer as valuable as it used to be because of hyperinflation,” Chundu said in an interview.


“Banks are now lifting restrictions on withdrawals following the directive from the RBZ governor. The move has the advantage of reducing congestion in banking halls and reducing pressure on employees.”


He said Century was also introducing the $1 million ATM allowance.

“If you are a customer this facility already exists,” he said. “I think we will be announcing the decision anytime now. It is more for the convenience of the customer.”


The prices of basic commodities have gone up significantly in Zimbabwe causing untold suffering to many consumers.


There are already recommendations that price controls be reintroduced countrywide to stop regular price increases, but analysts say all that this would do is cause numerous shortages of products.


An economist said the decision to increase the ATM limit to $1 million was justified in that prices were steep.


“A pair of shoes for example costs about $300 000, while a suit costs in the region of $700 000. So just buying a pair of shoes and a suit will wipe out the $1 million withdrawn from the ATM,” he said.


He said rentals were also increasing almost monthly with tenants now having to pay between $1 million and $1,5 million monthly for flats and about $2 million for three-bedroomed houses in middle income suburbs.

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