Zimbabwe’s Econet Wireless has disabled international payments and transactions on its Mastercard-linked EcoCash mobile money debit card, citing foreign currency shortages.
EcoCash has over 5 000 registered users in Zimbabwe.
Cash and forex challenges are worsening by the day in Zimbabwe. The government has criticised unnecessary spending, saying foreign currency should be used for key imports such as electricity, medicine and raw materials.
The liquidity squeeze has seen banks impose limits on Visa and Mastercard cards. Holders of these cards require approval from their banks to use them abroad.
Econet informed EcoCash users of the transaction policy change on Wednesday.
“Please be advised that international transactions on the Debit Card have been suspended with immediate effect. We apologize for the inconvenience caused,” it said in a text message.
The change was “due to the prevailing foreign currency shortages”.
It said that from November 1, its debit card holders will be able to continue using their EcoCash cards outside Zimbabwe, after “pre-funding your card at your nearest Econet shop”.
The card remains in use within Zimbabwe, the company said.
The change means that EcoCash debit card users will now have to cash in hard currency upfront before being able to complete international transactions and payments.