Zimbabwe money transfer agencies hard hit by forex shortages

Zimbabwe money transfer agencies hard hit by forex shortages

Western Union forced to temporarily suspend remittance services.

Zimbabwe money transfer agencies are either delaying or failing to remit services due to the lack of foreign currency.

Agencies say they cannot access forex from local banks for onward transfer to receivers.

The Western Union was recently forced to temporarily suspend its service because it failed to meet its customer obligations as a result of the termination of correspondent-bank arrangements between local banks and international financial institutions.

Some Western Union agencies, including FedEx and DHL, have advised that they no longer offer these services.

Market competitors MoneyGram and World Remit remain operational.

Tendai Bindura, managing director of Western Union Transfer said, "We don't have cash because local banks who are supposed to import cash for us, don't have. Money transfer agencies rely on the local banks for forex - as money transfer agents we don't directly import cash. Local backs need to have a sound relationship with the foreign bank to access foreign currency."

Bindura added that the agency intends to import cash directly from South Africa and expects to be in operation in the next three weeks.

"We have also applied to the Central Bank to import money on our own and directly from South Africa," he confirmed.

However, this too could prove to be a challenge amid reports that South Africa banks are de-risking from supplying Zimbabwe with US dollar notes.

William Manhimanzi, an official with the Central Bank was quoted by the Herald as saying: "Ordinarily we import the cash from South Africa, and most of the banks, due to what we call de-risking issues, have now given us notice that they can no longer provide our own local banks with cash (US dollars), so we are in a catch-22 situation."

Quest Financial Services manager Donald Saruro said his business has been affected by the ongoing liquidity crunch and that because of the shortage of foreign currency, some local banks issue remittances only to those with accounts.

Saruro said: "It's a struggle every day. We sometimes wait for days without foreign currency to remit to our clients."