Last week we reported that more and more traders were refusing the RTGS dollar. That component of the Zimbabwean dollar that is made up of the electronic balances in people’s accounts. Now reports we are receiving suggest that even government agencies such as the police and some municipal clinics are now preferring cash over the RTGS dollar.

Our colleagues at CashTalk have said that there some police stations out that are now only taking bond notes when receiving spot fines.

Dear @PoliceZimbabwe We’ve had reports of people who were arrested for breaching the lockdown rules and they were asked to pay $500 cash/bond fine. The question is: Is the fine only payable in cash/bond or its also payable through swipe or EcoCash, OneMoney and Telecash?

If it’s payable in bond only can you please tell us why. If it’s payable by other means can you please tell us why some police stations are insisting on paying in bond/cash. Thank you

A tweet by Cashtalk on the issue

It’s not just the police even various municipal clinics are now demanding cash claiming that their swipe and Ecocash facilities are not working. In any case those with these payment forms are often being served last dissuading most people from using them. One person we know went to Edith Opperman clinic in Mbare and the nurses there demanded a cash payment under.

Origin

In the beginning, there was the RTGS dollar. As government expenditure far outstripped their revenue collection abilities they started “printing” a digital currency through the Real-Time Gross Settlement system. The trouble started around 2016 when the growing amount of RTGS dollars, as they became known, started creating a cash crisis. You see there was more of this digital dollar than there was cash meaning not everyone who wanted to withdraw cash could have it. The bond notes and coins were introduced to solve these problems but not enough have been printed.

The Financial Intelligence Unit Strait-jacket

Normally this wouldn’t have mattered but the Financial Intelligence Unit which is embroiled in a fight with illegal foreign currency traders have been slowly placing the RTGS dollar in stocks. In recent days they have even clamped on Agent to Agent transfers making the RTGS dollar even more attractive as it is harder to move. Again that would not have been a big deal but the Zimbabwean dollar has been in a free fall ever since it was introduced last year. No sane business wants to have reserves or savings in that currency as it is being quickly wiped away by inflation.

The solution for most has been to either jack up prices so as to dissuade customers from paying using the RTGS or to refuse it outright. TelOne Zimbabwe uses the jacking up strategy where they are currently using a rate of $104 as to 1 USD.

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