RBZ configures RTGS system to multi-currency

HARARE - The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has configured the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system into a multi- currency platform set to include five currencies as it moves to mitigate against exchange control losses, it has emerged.

An RTGS is an electronic money transfer for high value transactions where the transmission takes place on a real time basis.

RBZ governor John Mangudya yesterday told the businessdaily that the configuration had already been done, with the system now being tested and set to go live by end of week.

“Yes, we have already configured the system and are now conducting what is known as the live test environment. The currencies to be configured are the South African rand, euro, United States dollar (US$), British pound and the Chinese yuan,” the central banker said.

Zimbabwe — which abandoned its currency in 2009 and adopted nine currencies as legal tender in a multi- currency economy — had a dollarised RTGS system which saw local banks sometimes levying extortionate exchange rates for inter-currency transfers.

The central bank chief said the move was aimed at strengthening the multi- currency system and giving depositors full value for all transactions conducted.

“This is very necessary in restoring, promoting and sustaining the multi- currency system and it is also in line with the treasury directive that all departments need to accept all the currencies in the national basket of currencies,” Mangudya said.

The central bank chief said government wanted to spread risk across all sections of the transacting public.

“The previous situation had been one in which the depositor had to foot whatever disparities emerged in the form of exchange control fees, a situation that was unfair and sometimes punitive on the depositor

“Through the new configured system, those transacting in rands are free to do so without having to worry about exchange rates and it will be like this across the divide with the rest of the four currencies to be configured,” he said.

Mangudya also said the move was expected to lead to more efficiency in the local RTGS system following reports that the transaction, which normally does not take over 24 hours to conduct, has been taking long to process as local banks battle cash shortages.

“The move will also ease the speed concerns that have been raised by the banking public over the past few weeks,” said Mangudya.

After ditching the Zimbabwe dollar, government adopted the multi- currency system — a basket of currencies dominated by the United States dollar and South African rand. The other currencies in the basket include the euro, Chinese yuan, Indian rupee, Botswana pula, Japanese yen and the Australian dollar.

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