The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe issued a statement where they said they would be opening up the foreign currency market to Bureau de Changes. Starting today,21 April, Bureau De Changes will now be allowed to sell foreign currency to individuals and SMEs. Transactions conducted will take place under the guise of the central bank which will monitor the transactions between exchanges, SMEs and individuals through the Bureau de Change Transaction Reporting System.

Below is the full statement:

ENHANCEMENT OF ACCESS TO FOREIGN EXCHANGE BY SMALL-SCALE ENTERPRISES AND INDIVIDUALS THROUGH BUREAUX DE CHANGE

Pursuant to the resolution of the Monetary Policy Committee directing bureaux de change to actively participate in the foreign exchange market to meet the foreign currency needs of small-scale enterprises and individuals, the Bank shall, with effect from 21 April 2021, sell foreign currency to registered bureaux de change for on-selling to their customers.

The bureaux de change must comply with the agreed terms of engagement which Include supporting small transactions up to a maximum value of US$500 per transaction.

All transactions by participating bureaux de change will be monitored through the Bureau de Change Transaction Reporting System put in place by the Bank.

This arrangement is expected to improve the efficacy of the foreign exchange market in the country and enhance the accessibility of foreign currency by small-scale enterprises and individuals through formal channels

The RBZ’s full statement

What does this rule change mean?

It’s sort of too early to tell, we don’t yet know the exact modalities under which the exchanges will operate. Will the central bank allow them to sell at their own rate or will they be required to stick with the official rate? If the latter then there is nothing to write home about as they say. However, if they are allowed to charge their own rate we might actually see the merger between the formal and informal market here.

Time will tell which is which.

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