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In a statement dated 19 May, The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) said the recent banning of some EcoCash Agent lines was meant to urge EcoCash to re-register and update its Agents’ Know Your Customer requirements.
As a result, Agents who have queries or want to reopen their lines should direct their queries to EcoCash but not to the Financial Intelligence Unit. Here’s the full statement by FIU:
CLARIFICATION REGARDING TEMPORARY SUSPENSION AND REREGISTRATION OF ECOCASH AGENT ACCOUNTS
The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) is being inundated by Ecocash (Private) Limited (Ecocash) clients whose agent accounts have been suspended pursuant to our directive issued on the 4th of May 2020. The FIU wishes to provide the following clarification to the affected agents.
The directive required Ecocash to suspend the accounts of all agent accounts that have transaction limits of more than ZW$100,000 per month. This was not an absolute ban, but simply required Ecocash to re-register, update and strengthen Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements for agents that transact high volumes, in line with Anti Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism laws. The move is meant to weed out illicit foreign currency dealers who are now the main drivers of high value / high volume transactions on the Ecocash platform, in the process destabilising and distorting the foreign currency market.
FIU analysis shows that the majority of agent accounts are no longer being used for the purpose for which they were originally intended, such as cash-in, cash-out, sending money, airtime vending and facilitating payment of utility bills by clients. The FIU further established that the KYC information which Ecocash has in respect of most of the agents is inadequate, inaccurate or out of date, hence the need for a wholesale update to ensure that only bona fide entities are allowed to continue using the platform.
Ecocash, like other financial service providers, is expected to know its customers well enough and satisfy itself at all times (through ongoing transaction monitoring) that they are all conducting legitimate business transactions, an obligation which mobile payment service providers, unlike banks, have generally failed to implement. Since the issuance of our directive on 4 May, 2020, the FIU’s expectation is that by now Ecocash should have commenced facilitation of the re-registration of the bona fide customers, among those affected. Instead, Ecocash continues to refer its clients to the FIU.
The FIU, therefore, wishes to advise affected Ecocash customers to direct all queries to Ecocash.
EcoCash is currently suing the RBZ for arbitrarily forcing it to close Agent lines whilst RBZ accuses EcoCash of failing to control its platform, which is being used by illegal foreign currency traders.
After the EcoCash Agent lines were closed, the exchange rate on the black market momentarily dropped, only to shoot up last week when new Zimbabwe Dollar notes were announced.