Zimbabwe’s $1.4 billion dollar remittances market is heavily contested. So is the domestic remittances market. One of the leading players until a couple of months ago was InnBucks. That was when the RBZ swooped in and knocked it off its secure perch and shut it down because apparently, InnBucks didn’t have a licence to do what they were doing. That was back in April and now InnBucks has returned as both a remittance service and a bank.

The landscape has changed significantly since InnBucks closed its doors back in April. More players have entered the market with the most recognisable name being Ecocash who were granted permission to operate a USD wallet and domestic remittance service in addition to their international remittance service under Cassava. Will they be able to dominate their market as they did before they were shut down? Only time will tell.

New fees and conditions

One reason why InnBucks were shut down was that the RBZ felt that the service had lax money laundering regulations. The new InnBucks comes with a new fee structure and regulations:

  • InnBucks is now essentially a bank which gives them a licence to offer the sort of fintech services they were now offering. The name of the bank is Ndoro Microfinance Bank Limited.
  • You can now only make a deposit into your own account, the phone hosing the account you are making a deposit in has to be present, on and available. You will also need to produce your ID when making a deposit and the name on your ID and account have to match.
  • Deposits are still free. That goes without saying but some services like the FBC MasterCard actually charge you to make a deposit so it is not always a given that deposits are free
  • You will be charged 2% for making a withdrawal
  • You will be charged a fee of 1% for sending an amount of US$5 or less
  • The fee for sending amounts above US$5 is 5%. That is probably because there is some sort of tax included in there too and the fee is inclusive of this fee. That makes the service very unattractive but that is Mthuli Ncube for you. He loves to tax and give little in return.
  • There is an account transaction limit of US$500. This probably means that there can be no more than US$500 in your InnBucks account
  • You can send up to US$250 per transaction to another InnBucks account
  • That sending amount is capped at US$1 000 per month

NB Limits are probably the RBZ and InnBucks way of tightening money laundering regulations.

Overall thanks to the IMT tax InnBucks is no longer an attractive proposition. The informal remittance market is set to make a strong comeback because it is much cheaper and less onerous. People can send money to their rural areas and other towns using buses as they have done for decades. There is no tax to do that and the recipient gets cash without standing in a queue.