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Zimbabwe Banks Try to Rebuild Trust


Zimbabwe Banks Try to Rebuild Trust

Zimbabwe Banks Try to Rebuild Trust

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Zimbabwe's banks are slowly trying to rebuild the trust they lost during the past few years due to Zimbabwe's economic crisis. The banks are at various stages of offering normal services.

This time last year Zimbabweans spent hours every day trying to get money, which did not buy much from the banks. Rampant inflation quickly reduced their money to worthless pieces of paper, which even beggars would not accept.

The government could not print money fast enough and often banks ran out of money. After spending hours waiting in line, their customers would go home empty-handed and not happy. The government's "borrowing" from foreign currency accounts without consulting the account holders also made people wary of banks.

But since the government made the U.S. dollar the official currency, or dollarized as they say here earlier this year, things are changing. The lines have disappeared and customers are more or less guaranteed they will get their money when they need it.

Barclays Bank has operated in Zimbabwe for 97 years. They were not spared the problems of the past few years. Valeta Mthimkhulu, the Head of Corporate Affairs for the bank in Zimbabwe, tells VOA things are slowly but surely returning to normal. She notes there is a steady increase in deposits.

"That for us is a signal that there is a growing level of confidence in terms of trusting the financial system," she said. "Obviously it is a journey it is going take a bit of a while, but there has been a noted improvement."

And to make things even better for its customers Barclays has introduced a local debit card. This can be used for cash withdrawals from 36 of the bank's 78 Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) across Zimbabwe. Other banks are already issuing cards that can be used in and outside Zimbabwe, while some are still working on getting their ATMs working again, and long forgotten services such as using plastic money in shops are being revived.

In the past few years the only way visitors to this country could get money from banks was over the counter. This is now changing with Barclays ATMs now accepting international cards.

"At the moment that is only for Visa cards, so we are noticing a lot of activity from tourists withdrawing money from our ATMs using their international Visa cards," she added.

Other banks are also working towards making this possible and they are hoping to be ready by the time the soccer World Cup happens in South Africa next year. Zimbabwe, like other countries in the region, is hoping to benefit from an overflow of the thousands of tourists who are expected for the soccer showcase.

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