The Zimbabwe government has suspended all monetary transactions on mobile-based money platforms as the country’s currency crisis continues to escalate. The suspension also includes operations by dominant provider Ecocash, which used to buy cryptos like Bitcoin in the country.
According to the government, the country’s mobile money systems, together with its stock exchange have been conspiring to perform illicit activities that are sabotaging the economy. As a result, the Secretary of Information Ministry, Nick Mangwana, and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe have issued a statement suspending all mobile money activities in the country.
Mangwana said Ecocash in particular is acting as the centre pivot of the accelerating black market foreign exchange rate. The company is also being blamed for fuelling the incessant price hacks of goods and services that are causing economic hardship in the country.
In response to the government’s directive, Ecocash has promised to defy the ban. The company has issued a statement claiming that they are aware of the directive issued by the Secretary of Information Ministry that purports to ban all mobile transactions.
According to the company, it is being regulated by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, and only the central bank can order it to stop trading. Ecocash therefore assured its users to continue using the platform until they notify them further, as required by law.
Millions of Zimbabweans rely on digital payment operators as obtaining physical cash in the country is so difficult. Last year, mobile wallets accounted for nearly 85% of all transaction volumes, according to the country’s central bank.
A local news outlet reported that the demand for Bitcoin has skyrocketed in the wake of the mobile payments suspension. The report also claimed that the cryptocurrency is selling at 18% premium above the market rate.