HARARE - WorldRemit, a leading online money transfer company, is guaranteeing its customers United States dollars in cash for collection at Steward Bank branches across Zimbabwe. The international money transfer firm has been operating in Zimbabwe since 2010, and is taking the unprecedented step to source cash through its partner Steward Bank. “We know that remittances are a mainstay for families throughout Zimbabwe and they are especially important as Christmas approaches.
Our customers trust us to deliver their hard-earned funds quickly and reliably which is why we are taking this unprecedented step to source cash,” WorldRemit chief executive officer Ismail Ahmed said. Zimbabwean customers can transfer funds from countries around the world, including the UK, Australia, Canada, US and Norway, using WorldRemit’s convenient, fast online service. Recipients will be able to pick their cash from Steward Bank branches in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Masvingo and Gweru. The move is a response to increasing demand from our customers for cash pickup services ahead of the festive season.
Steward Bank chief executive Lance Mambondiani said his financial institution was “excited at this initiative by WorldRemit which is aimed at increasing the convenience for our transacting customers. Diaspora remittances play a significant role in the development of our economy and initiatives such as these have a significant impact in promoting Diaspora remittances.” Customers who send money through WorldRemit can expect the cash to become available within minutes in Steward Bank branches.
Although the guarantee initially only applies to Steward Bank, it is expected that it will soon extend to other WorldRemit pay-out partners in the country. Since starting its operations in Zimbabwe, WorldRemit has completed over 1,7 million transactions from the Diaspora sending money home and has built up a loyal customer base, attracted by its convenient online, lower-cost model. The development comes at a time the country, which ditched its own currency for the greenback and other foreign currencies in 2009, is experiencing acute shortages of cash, forcing banks to limit daily withdrawals. United States dollar notes have largely disappeared, with those holding them selling the cash at a premium of up to 40 percent, especially to businesses seeking to import goods. Government said cash shortages stemmed from a lack of confidence in the financial system, a mismatch between cash dollars and bank balances and poor cash circulation due to “lack of discipline and rent seeking behaviour."