Here at Zimpricecheck we keep track of a lot of rates. These maybe be confusing to some foreigners and even some locals but those looking for these rates often find our service useful. One ninche rate that we keep track of is the socalled Skrill USD to ZWL rate. It measures what those who are selling USD in their Skrill wallets are asking for or what those who are looking for USD in their Skrill in their wallets are willing to pay.
What is Skrill anyway?
Skrill is a payments provider kind of like PayPal. If you don’t know what PayPal is think of Skrill and PayPal as being kind of like an Ecocash on steroids. You can cash into these wallets, use the balances in these wallets to make cross border payments including paying for goods and services, sending money to users on the same platform in this case Skrill and pay merchants who accept Skrill payments directly.
There is are two major differences between Skrill and PayPal:
- Until recently Skrill’s full array of services was available to Zimbabweans. Unlike PayPal which only allows Zimbabweans to send payments and not to receive, Skrill actually allowed Zimbabweans to send and receive payments.
- Skrill was made to serve those legal services which are shunned by PayPal including gambling, betting and binary trading. PayPal will not touch any of these with the proverbial ten foot pole.
Both of these differences are what made Skrill a big attraction in certain circles. You wouldn’t believe it but there is quite a number of Zimbabweans who engage in online foreign currency trading and gambling. Some of them are actually decent at it and make a living out of it. There are other Zimbabweans that are involved in illicit movement of funds too who made the service their haven.
Skrill is incredibly easier to use and master compared to cryptocurrencies which tend to be volatile. Imagine trying to pay for something using ZWD in 2008 when prices would go up at a moment’s notice. One moment you are charging a good price the next your are making a devastating loss. That’s what using Bitcoin is like. The price changes every second. It doesn’t help that sometimes it takes up to 10 minutes or even more for a transaction to complete.
That is why Skrill was loved.
It all went to hell
You would have noticed the past tense with which I am describing Skrill. That is because Skrill akasekho emhlabeni-Zimbabweans are no longer allowed on the platform. It happened gradually. First, last year, Zimbabweans who wanted to sign up for the service could no longer do so. Zimbabwe was gone from the list of countries. Those who reached out to Skrill were told that new sign ups from Zimbabweans were no longer allowed.
That was not the end of it. At the start of this year, Zimbabweans using Skrill received an email informing them to put their affairs in order. On the 20th of April, Skrill would be shutting down Zimbabwean accounts. For reasons still not clear a number of people failed to heed those warnings. The 20th of April came and Skrill seemed like it had forgotten to shutdown those accounts which prompted some people to continue using them.
Then last week it happened. Skrill closed all Zimbabwean accounts on the platform and went even a step futher. You see when some Zimbabweans could not sign up for Skrill using their home country, they used South Africa as their country. That worked for a while but indications are that Skrill is going after these accounts too and shutting any account it suspects of being used by a Zimbabwean.
Zimbabwe the pariah state
That’s how it went down. Another payment service left Zimbabwe. in fact, the last payment service left Zimbabwe. I cannot think of any other international service that Zimbabweans can use to receive payments from abroad besides our much-vaulted remittance agencies. Everyone treats the country like it has leprosy and the government with its knee-jerk policies isn’t helping it’s cause. This is where sanctions really hurt the ordinary men too.
We will examine this in our upcoming Zimbabwean ecommerce bible, but basically what it all comes down to is that if you are running an ecommerce shop or trying to sell to Diasporas or those who are abroad, your options are now severely limited. You now only have a company called 2Checkout to contend with and these are downright silly when it comes to restrictions. They make PayPal look permissive and that’s saying something.
The other option is Bitcoin and while it is great as a fungible asset as a payments option it’s absolute garbage not least of all because of the reason I mentioned above. How can you make payments using a currency whose value is constantly shifting. By the time you are done effecting the payment either you or the merchant is losing out.