Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

RBZ penalises banks for high charges

By Conrad Mwanawashe

Some commercial banks and micro-finance institutions have been penalised by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe for continuing to charge exorbitant transaction fees and interest rates above the stipulated levels.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya

Early this month the RBZ, following discussions with the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe and payment systems providers slashed electronic banking charges while financial institutions were also urged to lower their interest rates to 15 percent.

However, despite the reduction, some banks and MFIs have continued to charge above acceptable fees levels. And to ensure banks are compliant, the RBZ is penalising any bank found to be truant including reimbursing clients their money, according to the Director of Bank Supervision and Registrar of Banks Norman Mataruka.

“Where ever charges are above what was published, members of the public must phone the RBZ compliance unit and indicate the particular institution so that we take corrective measures. We have had issues like that and people have been reimbursed their money,” said Mr Mataruka.

“We also penalise such institutions. So if you give us the details. We just want to know which particular institution and once we know that we can check their system on how they actually configured their systems in terms of charges because this (the new fees) was agreed on between the central bank and the banks,” he said.

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Mr Mataruka was speaking at the 4th Zimbabwe SME banking and Micro-finance Summit 2016 yesterday.

To create a safety net for consumers, the RBZ will be issuing the consumer protection guidelines that should guide all banking institutions in terms of how they should relate with consumers.

“What is disturbing is that almost on a daily basis we receive complaints from members of the public who are borrowing at these exorbitant interest rates and a lot of people are multi-borrowed from the MFIs themselves. It then removes that buffer that you need to build for you to be able to pay,” said Mr Mataruka.

To ensure compliance, Mr Mataruka said the central bank has included consumer protection buffer in the Microfinance Act to protect consumers.

“We have now incorporated consumer protection provision in the Micro-finance Act the same way as in the Banking Act, so that banks and MFIs and any lender pay particular attention to this,” he said.

“This is part of the reductions. We had a wholesale reduction to charges in plastic money.”

According to the new charges the maximum RTGS charge has been set at $5 from $10, while ATM charges did not change at $2,50.

Electronic funds transfer will now attract a minimum fee of 33 cents and a maximum of $2,10, while a point of sale transaction of up to $10 is now attracting a charge of 10 cents and transactions.