Paynet saga turns nasty

Business Exclusive Clips Top Stories Zimbabwe

· As Cambria claims there is a cartel in Zim banking sector

Ndaka Majaka

Cambria Africa PLC, which last month suspended its payment service to its bank customers in Zimbabwe over a debt of US$430 000, claims that it was dribbled by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ).

Cambria Africa’s chief executive Samir Shasha alleges that there is a cartel in Zimbabwe’s banking sector working against his company.

Both the RBZ and BAZ refute Cambria’s claims.

BAZ Vice President Ralph Watungwa reiterated that they will not yield to Cambria’s demands.

“The industry maintains its position that Paynet’s services will not be paid in USD which is the basis of the dispute,” Watungwa told ZTN.

However, Shasha maintains that some banks had earlier indicated that they were ready to settle what they owed for use of the Paynet system.

 “On the 31st of May, the deadline for banks to indicate their intent to accept and pay the Payserv Africa invoice (not a Paynet Invoice), only Stanbic, IDBZ, Agribank, and GetBucks had signaled their intent and acceptance.

“I met with the Governor of the Reserve Bank and the Head of Financial Markets… I explained that the other banks seemed to question whether it was legal to pay externally for Paynet’s service.

“Upon explaining the new arrangement to the Governor, he said he had no objection to the payment of these invoices and would issue a directive through the head of Exchange Control. That directive never came through,” the Paynet boss said.

Paynet has since announced that it has commenced legal action against the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) for anti-competitive practices seeking damages amounting to US$100 million.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s central bank recently said it anticipates a homegrown bulk payment system to go live by the end of this month.

ZTN understands the new platform will be housed by national electronic funds switch, ZimSwitch, which is presently administering ZIPIT, the mobile money-transfer service currently being used by local banks.

The system will be known as Bank File Interchange System (BFIS) and will be placed under the control of the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe.