Forbes Africa Magazine (September Issue) reports that MasterCard will be opening a new office in Zimbabwe in the near future. This is in spite of the biting cash shortages, sanctions and instability in the southern African country.
President for MasterCard in the Middle East and Africa , Raghu Malhotra, is so in love with Zimbabwe that he has visited the Victoria Falls on holiday twice in the recent years.
MasterCard has been delaying opening the office in Zimbabwe since 2018 without specifying reasons.
The entry of MasterCard into the Zimbabwe market will bring further competition in the Ecocash dominated country. It could also mean an improvement in terms of ease of doing business.
With no cash in the banks, Zimbabweans are forced to use cards and mobile transfers where possible. This has made cash a commodity that can be sold at a premium.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe recently announced that 80% of all debit cards in Zimbabwe are now EMV compliant. This is an enhanced security standard that requires a card to have a chip. These type of infrastructure changes mean more hardware business for companies like MasterCard.
In October 2018, MasterCard President and CEO, Ajay Banga visited Zimbabwe and met with Financial services players.
MasterCard is one of the few International companies that are directly doing business in Zimbabwe.
However, opening an office in Zimbabwe will be seen as a violation of the US imposed ZIDERA sanctions.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is among those institutions which were slapped with sanctions under the US Zimbabwe Development and Economic Recovery Act.
It is likely that the delay in opening a new MasterCard Office in Zimbabwe is a calculated business decision to avoid angering the US government. This will come as good news to opposition parties and human Rights organisations that see the ED Mnangagwa government as an extension of the Mugabe oppressive regime.