The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s (RBZ) Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has directed Steward Bank to restrict payments into the Mobile Money Trust (MMT) account for EcoCash in a bid to combat money laundering and illicit foreign currency dealings by some EcoCash agents.

A letter dated 21 May 2020 and directed to Courage Mashavave, Steward Bank CEO, by FIU acting director-general, O, Chipesa reads:

Restriction of payments into Ecocash Mobile Money Trust MMT) Account

1. We understand Steward Bank holds or manages Mobile Money Trust (MMT) account for Ecocash (Private) Limited.

2. We have noted rampant abuse of the mobile money platforms for purposes of illicit foreign currency dealings and money laundering. We have noted huge daily inflows into the MMT account, without any apparent underlying business rationale.

3. We have directed mobile money service providers to undertake an agent re-licencing and KYC enhancement exercise to ensure that only bonafide entities are allowed to continue transacting on the respective mobile money platforms.

4. Pending completion of such a KYC enhancement and re-licensing exercise by the mobile money service providers, banks shall, with immediate effect, implement the following measures in respect of MMT accounts:

(a) the bank shall not receive or process any payment into the MMT account from a third party, i.e. a person/entity who is not an account-holder with the bank;
(b) a customer of the bank shall only be allowed to pay into the Ecocash MMT account, funds not exceeding ZW$100,000 per month (in line with the agent/bulk payer monthly limits currently in force);
(c) Ecocash shall, from time-to-time, provide the bank with lists and details of its agents who would have undergone the re-licensing exercise, and who shall be allowed to transact at higher limits, as shall be approved by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, acting in consultation with the FIU;
(d)the bank shall exercise enhanced due diligence to satisfy itself as to the purpose of any payment into the MMT account and report any suspicious transactions.

5. The above restrictions shall not apply to Ecocash agents/bulk payers who fall into the following categories, whose transaction limits shall continue to be managed by Ecocash, as per currently approved thresholds:

  • Banking institutions;
  • Bureaux de change;
  • Listed companies;
  • International Organizations;
  • Microfinance institutions; and
  • Government and quasi-government institutions.

6. Steward Bank shall provide the FIU with daily returns of all funds deposited into the MMT account.