Barclays Zim battles rumour circulating on social media

Barclays Bank Zimbabwe says it is still open for business after a false social media message saying it will shut down on March 22 went viral.

Zimbabwe has over nine million mobile network subscribers. The WhatsApp message, which has widely been circulated in the Southern African country, says: "Those with their monies at Barclays Bank go and withdraw, it is closing for good on the 22nd of March 2016. Pass it on."

Last month, another local commercial bank, NMB Bank experienced a similar problem with rumour posted via social media, and this bank responded with a statement to reaffirm its sound financial and liquidity position.

There is speculation that the false Barclays Zimbabwe WhatsApp message is related to the recent announcement by parent company Barclays PLC that it was disposing of its interests in Africa, including Zimbabwe, Egypt and a 62% stake in Barclays Africa, formerly Absa.

Barclays Zimbabwe has since issued a statement to its clients and other stakeholders, saying "the misleading WhatsApp messages currently circulating concerning our alleged closure on the 22nd of March 2016 are grossly inaccurate and false".

It said the currently British owned bank "is open for business and has no intention whatsoever to close its doors to its banking clients in Zimbabwe."

Bob Diamond, a former Barclays plc executive, has been touted as a potential buyer for its Africa properties, according to media reports, quoting market analysts as well as Diamond's associates.

Barclays Zimbabwe is forging ahead with its digitalisation process and recently unveiled a plan to open accounts using i-pads among other internet enabled banking platforms.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has urged banks to adopt ICT enabled and agent-based banking models to address concerns with opening new branches in remote and rural areas.