Zim ban on mobile money challenged in court

Cassava Smartech, majority-owned by local business mogul Strive Masiyiwa, has taken the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to court over the ban of mobile money facilities that allowed customers to deposit and withdraw using their mobile phones.

The company on Tuesday filed an urgent chamber application in the High Court of Zimbabwe for a temporary interdict against the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s decision to ban mobile money agencies.

Masiyiwalaunched launch mobile phone network Econet Wireless Zimbabwe in1998. Cassava controls more than 90% of the mobile money market in Zimbabwe and is listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

Cassava said while it was already in the process of implementing Monday’s directive to discontinue offering its services, it intended to “temporarily stop the continued implementation of the central bank’s directive pending the determination of the legality or otherwise of the directive”.

It said in complying with the central bank’s order, there was a “possibility of a complete shutdown of the Ecocash platform”.

Cassava’s mobile money platform is currently the lifeblood of Zimbabwe’s payment system – at least 10.5 million people use it.

Since inception in September 2011, customers have used deposited more than US$10bn.

Cassava CEO Eddie Chibi said the decision to shut down the platform came as a “shock” and said the directive was “irrational and a violation of constitutional rights.”