B-METRO COMMENT: Plastic Money – A plausible remedy

On Wednesday, Zimbabweans woke up toA� news that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) had slashed service charges in its attempts to encourage the use of plastic money as the country tackles a pervasive cash crisis.

For many, the pleas from the authorities for the country to turn to the use of plastic money has not made sense as banks are notorious for charging exorbitant fees that make the idea of using debit cards unpleasant.

After all, there is little incentive to use such services if doing so will only result in unjustifiable deductions from onea��s earnings.

But on Wednesday, the RBZ took a step in the long journey to make the countrya��s banks more customer friendly. The RBZ reduced bank charges on electronic transactions that will see electronic fund transfers attracting charges of between $0,33 to a maximum of $2,10.

Point of sale (POS) transactions up to $10 will now attract a charge of $0,10, while those above that threshold will attract a fee of $0,45. POS own bank customer will have a maximum charge of $0,20, while POS issuer charges have been removed.

Central bank governor John Mangudya said automated teller machine (ATM) withdrawals will attract a maximum fee of $2,50 and merchant service commission was to attract a fee which ranges from zero to a maximum of one percent for local transactions.

Monthly administration or service fees will now range between zero to a maximum of $5 for individuals, and the new charges are inclusive of the $0,05 tax.

a�?It is envisaged that the reduction in transactional fees will go a long way in promoting the use of plastic money, which is essential to move the economy towards a cashless society and complement the current financial inclusion efforts,a�? said the RBZ governor when he announced the new measures.

The move towards the encouragement of plastic money is welcome and indeed commendable that the central bank is pushing ahead with plans to make plastic money, a feasible way to acquire goods and services.

However, the move should also be complemented by the public who have to shed Zimbabwea��s long held allegiance to cash.

It thus stands to reason that although the central bank may have put measures to ensure that consumers dona��t struggle to exercise the option of using plastic money, a change in attitude and outlook by Zimbabweans is also required. The resistance to plastic money and the love of cash will have to gradually decrease, as this is necessary if the country is to successfully confront its current crisis.

The central bank should also not stop at the new measures but also go the extra mile in educating people about plastic money, its uses and its advantages.

Everyone is now fully awake to the problem that confronts the country. It has been diagnosed successfully and it is now up to Zimbabweans from all walks of life to help administer the prescribed remedy.

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