Is CBZ offering Visa Direct a new remittance tool in Zimbabwe?

The remittnace Landscape in Zimbabwe might be about to change.

CBZ Bank Zimbabwe Visa Direct

The Zimbabwean financial landscape is opening up ever so slowly to international payments in various ways that we found quite unexpected. What first pointed out this opening was the announcement that Nedbank Zimbabwe was going to start accepting American Express payments for tourists. This move, as purpose-built as it is for the foreign market, shows that the international payment networks that were typically cold (or apprehensive) towards Zimbabwe are now opening up. What truly showed that things are different this time around is a message that CBZ Bank Zimbabwe customers got from the financial institution saying that their FCA Gold Cards can now receive money from anywhere in the world through Visa Direct.

What this essentially means is that anyone, anywhere in the world can send money to someone in Zimbabwe as long as they hold a CBZ Gold Visa Card. This indicates that CBZ, with this move, has broadened the possibility of what remittances are in the Zimbabwean context.

Until this announcement, cash was the only way you could get money into Zimbabwe because electronic platforms such as PayPal have very strict restrictions on what Zim-based accounts can do… Moreover, companies like Skrill and others stopped serving the Zimbabwean market altogether, which led to the transacting public having to resort to Hawala through those who have foreign registered and active accounts to get funds in and out of Zimbabwe or to exchange value in cash as well as goods and services.

All of this, of course, isn’t to negate the Prepaid FCA cards which seem to be the necessary evil for international payment networks to at least get a slice of what is going on in Zimbabwe. However, they fell short of what was possible because they are typically only useful for online payments. Moreover, there was nothing linking the massive influx of remittances into Zimbabwe with the digital transaction ecosystem…

Sure, someone gets money from a bank that is partnered with a remittance service, but that can’t use that money digitally. CBZ, at face value, seems to have solved this problem. Other institutions have not been able to meld the aspect of remittances with digital transactions but now for Zimbabweans, if Visa Direct for CBZ works half as well as it should, it will be a viable alternative for services like Wise (TransferWise), Revolut and others that offer bank-like remittance services but aren’t available in Zimbabwe.