Zimbabwe Banks Shut 17% Of Branches As Virus Drives Digitization

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Zimbabwean banks have closed about 17% of their branches as an escalation in the number of coronavirus infections spurs lenders to shut their doors for the time being and accelerate a digitization drive.

Of the 300 branches in the country, 10% were permanently closed last year due to the digitization push. An additional 23 branches are now temporarily under lock and key in response to a strict 30-day lockdown that started on Jan. 5, the Zimbabwe Bankers’ Allied Workers Union said.

There is a high possibility that some may never be re-opened in the foreseeable future,” Shepherd Ngandu, the assistant secretary-general of the union, said by text message.

While banking is deemed an essential service and is exempt from a total shutdown, lenders have opted to downscale to minimize infection risks. The companies rotate half their branch staff every two weeks.