Tuesday, August 18, 2009
USD Cheque Books Introduced
LOCAL banks yesterday introduced United States dollar denominated cheque books in response to changes in the economy.Bankers Association of Zimbabwe president Dr John Mangudya announced the latest development in a statement, saying the limit for individual cheques was US$200 while companies can write cheques for up to $500.The use of cheques will come as a huge relief on the national payment system as business was now being mainly transacted on a cash basis outside the Real Time Gross Settlement system.The statement said that all commercial banks will issue cheque books with the usual security features to companies and individuals.Local cheques would be cleared within four working days while country cheques would be cleared after seven days.This comes in the wake of the introduction of foreign currency-denominated ATM cards by three local banks last month.Finance Minister Tendai Biti in April this year urged banks to readjust their systems to enable the use of the multi currency system saying this would go a long way in ensuring the viability of business transactions.The cheque book system had been abandoned early this year when the hyper inflationary environment had caused the local currency to be devalued to unaccountable levels.Dr Mangudya has already said that the move to introduce the foreign currency-denominated cheque books will run concurrently with point-of-sale machines and international debit and credit cards.He said that the availability of the greenback has continued to be a major challenge for the financial sector hence the need to adopt other strategies to allow transactions to continue.Analysts stressed the need for the economy to gear towards the creation of a society that does not depend on cash for all transactions because of foreign currency shortages.Giving oral evidence before a Parliamen-tary Portfolio Committee on Natural Resources, Hospitality and Tourism on the financial sector’s preparedness of 2010 soccer showcase in South Africa yesterday, Dr Mangundya urged the public to be cautious when dealing with cheques."We have started with low upper limits for US$200 and US$500 for individuals and corporates respectively to minimise fraud cases. We therefore urge the public to be cautious when dealing with these cheques in particular to note that we have written 'US$' on the face of the cheque where you write the amount in figures, this is to make a distinction from the old cheque books and also it shows that we are dealing with US dollars and not any other currency," he said."These cheques can also be used to address the challenge of change because if a trader for example has no change, one can write a cheque, so we urge the public to open bank accounts."He said banks would by the end of next month have introduced international credit cards to enable tourists to use them in settlement of debts.