RBZ Orders Banks To Detect Debit Card Abuses

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By Alois Vinga

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has ordered banks to urgently implement measures to detect ongoing rampant debit card abuses fueling the black market US$ trades.
In an update, the FIU director, Oliver  Chiperesa said such abuses are directly linked to the current depreciation of the local currency.

The FIU said the developments come after noting the increasing abuse of debit cards linked to the Zimbabwe dollar-denominated bank accounts.

“Cardholders approach customers who intend to purchase goods or services in foreign currency and offer the use of their cards in return for foreign currency at an agreed rate.

“In the course of discharging AML/CFT obligations, banks are expected to identify and report those transactions as suspicious and in the case of repeated abuse, close the accounts and report same to FIU,” said the department.

Under the new regulations, banks are directed to implement the following measures to curb the abuse of bank accounts and debit cards in particular by implementing a robust automated transaction monitoring mechanism to identify debit cards and the linked bank accounts that are being used frequently and in a pattern that raises suspicion that the customer is abusing the card to pay for goods and services on behalf of third parties.

“Having identified such transactions and accounts, the bank must carry out further analysis to establish the source of funding into the accounts as well as the purpose and legitimacy of the payments.

“If the bank determines that the account is being used for third-party payments, the bank must file suspicious transaction report to FIU,” said Chiperesa.

In addition, to file STRs, banks were also directed to consider taking immediate steps to withdraw banking services in respect of the offending customer.

“In appropriate cases, the bank may, in its discretion issue a final warning to a customer before making a final decision to close the account.

Among other indicators, banks should pay attention to and investigate the following red flags ;

A bank account that receives regular inflows from sources or for a purpose that cannot be readily verified, followed by frequent debit card payments.

A debit card is used to purchase goods and services in different shops in a way that is inconsistent with shopping patterns.

Banks are required to configure their automated transaction monitoring systems specifically to detect the abuses highlighted above.

“To report to the FIU by October 18 2021 on the measures implemented,” added Chiperesa.