The use of plastic money has brought challenges, with some wholesalers apparently putting stumbling blocks to the move by giving first preference to customers with cash.
BY VICTORIA MTOMBA
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is promoting the use of plastic money to reduce the demand for cash transactions in light of the cash crisis which has resulted in banks placing a $100 cap on withdrawals.
This has seen retailers, service stations, local authorities and churches acquiring point of sale (POS) machines for transactions.
However, a visit to Mohammed Mussa Wholesalers in Harare on Saturday painted a different picture.
Standardbusiness observed that the wholesaler had one POS device which alternated between two till operators.
The news crew waited for about three hours as the till operators gave first preference to customers who had cash.
The news crew observed that when the customer wanted to transact, a senior staffer would take the bank card and swipe it on a machine.
The staffer would then ask for the customer’s personal identification (pin) number and would punch it on the machine.
The wholesaler has a notice to the effect that its machine rejects bank cards after 2pm. The furniture wing had no POS machines.
When the crew visited OK Mart, the situation was different as the retailer had a number of POS machines and till operators were efficiently serving customers.
In less than an hour, the crew had purchased their goods.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Denford Mutashu said he had contacted Mohammed Mussa Wholesalers and requested for some time to engage the wholesaler.
He later told Standardbusiness that the wholesaler had one POS machine after failing to get more from its bankers.
“As much as they [Mohammed Mussa] wanted to have the POS machines, they only managed to get two machines from their bank. So there was nothing else that they could do,” he said.
Mutashu said the wholesaler denied allegations that there were instances when its staffers took customers’ pin numbers.
He said in some cases some customers would not be using plastic money and this implied minimal usage of the payment method.
He, however, said on the issue of getting people’s pin numbers: “I don’t think that is acceptable. it is an issue of privacy of the customer. It’s an issue for banks to improve the safety of customers as no one should know what happens with your pin number when you disclose it to someone.”
Mutashu said plastic money usage in the economy was between 70 and 80%. He said a number of retailers were already installing new machines.
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe executive director Rosemary Siyachitema said consumers should not give their pin numbers to anyone.
“If you give your pin number to a stranger, you do not know what will happen after [the transaction]. It’s a secret number and should be kept safe. That is why even at the bank it is given to you and you are told to keep it safe and as a secret.”
Siyachitema said since the cash shortages started, there had been challenges in the use of plastic money, adding the consumer rights body would engage the central bank on the matter.
RBZ governor John Mangudya said while the use of plastic money had increased, there was need for continued monitoring.
“The usage of plastic money has improved but we require controls and monitoring and the last time we went to Mohammed Mussa, we found out that there were point of sale machines that were working. We need to keep on monitoring,” he said.
CBZ Bank head of e-banking card services Saul Chin’anga told delegates at the Buy Local Summit last week that there were 18 000 machines in the market and they hoped the number would grow to 30 000 by end of year.