Here are 11 ways to survive the current cash crisis in Zimbabwe

Nigel Gambanga Avatar
Loans suspension Cash Crisis in Zimbabwe, US Dollars, Hard Currency

Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a cash shortage. As “survivors” of the 2008 economic crisis we never thought we’d hear this again after the adoption of a multi-currency system.

Thankfully the situation hasn’t deteriorated to pre-dollarisation levels but there is a sense of panic that has gripped most citizens.

What happens when the banks really run out of cash? Will we have another shortage of basic commodities? Will everyday transactions grind to a halt?

The answers to those questions aren’t clear at this point. What is obvious, though, is that Zimbabweans will try their best to work around the challenges related to this.

Technology will play a huge role in helping people in doing this. Over the past 8 years, a lot has changed in that area – from a rapid rise in internet access to the emergence new platforms for payments and money exchange like mobile money.

We’ve come up with a list of 11 things that everyone who is struggling to get their hands on their cash from the bank can do to weather the cash crisis storm.

These solutions are meant to ease the pressures of a cash crisis, they won’t completely solve your need for hard currency.

After all, the dream of a cashless society hasn’t become a reality because of issues like an incomplete rollout of supporting infrastructure for e-money solutions, digital transactions apathy from services providers, punitive costs on transactions, and the clear absence of supporting legislation that makes e-transactions a leading solution.

For now, you should consider the following:

Get a reliable bank card

Steward Bank & MasterCard

Bank cards are now more than just another tool for ATM access. They will help you pay for services and complete transactions as long as you are in an establishment that has the good sense to make that option available.

They have to be reliable which in the context of Zimbabwean transactions usually means an integration with Zimswitch which will give you increased access to POS terminals that have that facility.

A cashback facility beats a bank queue – use this facility


If you are using bank cards for in-store purchases, make it a point to access the cashback facility. Most retailers have held on to this as a value added service which has eliminated the need for that visit to the bank.

It comes with some “reasonable” limits. Depending on where you shop you can get up to $100 for purchases of at least $30 or amounts based on how much you spend in the store like a cashback that’s 3 times the value of what you spend. It won’t help you empty your account from inside the store, but it gives you that extra bit of cash that you’d have had to queue for hours to get.

Sign up for internet banking

Barclays Zimbabwe,

As long as cash is elusive every channel that gives you room to handle your financial obligations without laying your hands on money has to be explored. Which makes that e-banking service or that banking app a reliable tool in your cash crisis kit.

Fortunately, most well-serving banks have online banking facilities and have been expanding this function with applications that are able to give you access to most of the major functions you need from your banking hall. Now’s the time to sign up and download.

Link your bank account with your mobile money account

Mobile Money In Africa, Mobile Services, Telecoms

Judging from the recent cash shortages being experienced by mobile money agents the bank account-to-mobile money wallet link is the most popular deal in town right now and for good reason.

Depending on which mobile money service you use, the mobile money agent network has managed to bring pseudo-banking facilities to pracitically every corner of the country. It’s even been exploited for agent banking by forward thinking banks like Steward Bank.

Using it gives you an option to increase your cash withdrawal points exponentially, never mind the fact that it comes with its own high charges. Still, it means cash isn’t just limited to those few brick and mortar bank branches or governed by operating hour restrictions.

Use the mobile money service tools like debit cards


The two leading mobile money services, EcoCash, and Telecash, have debit cards that make it easier for wallet holders to make payments. getting your hands on one would also increase the functionality of your mobile money wallet once it becomes an accessory for your bank account transactions. Cards like the Telecash Gold Card also have Zimswitch integration which is a huge plus for in-store transactions.

Buy your groceries online

hammer and tongues, e-commerce, online business Zimbabwe

Online retailing has grown significantly over the past 5 years and the options for payments that also include mobile money mean that it’s a clear alternative that can be explored for buying fast moving consumer goods especially your groceries.

Some notable brands in the retailing space like hammer and Tongues and FoodWorld will give you access to a decent variety of products and also provide reliable delivery services.

Pay for your ZESA electronically


If you are stuck with the electricity bill you can make your ZESA payments using your bank card and if you are using the prepaid ZESA token system it’s possible to buy your tokens from electronic payment platforms from banks like CBZ Bank and ZB Bank.

There are also  EcoCash payment options that have also emerged like TelOne’s Telpay, Paynow’s and the horde of ZESA prepaid electricity agents that are using social media platforms like facebook and WhatsApp to promote their services which accept mobile money  payments.

Pay your municipal payments electronically

Municipal payments, Harare, Sunshine CIty, Zimbabwean Metropolitan, Utilities payments

The city of Harare has just introduced card payment facilities in its halls and it won’t be the last municipality to do so. At the same time, most councils have for years now, offered mobile money payment options through EcoCash and Telecash. All these should be the only way to handle those monthly municipal payments.

Get a fuel card

Fuel cards, Redan, Puma Energy Zimbabwe, e-fuel, Cash Crisis alternatives

Buying fuel shouldn’t drain your limited cash reserves. So try to get a fuel card from companies like Puma Energy that have an online payment facility for card holders that accepts VISA Zimswitch and V-Payments.

Whatever can be paid online or electronically, should be


This is a bit of a no-brainer but in the face of high electronic payment charges some channels were never that popular. In crisis mode, that changes significantly.

As much as possible everything from school fees payments to monthly subscriptions and account payments which are a merchant code or card swipe away shouldn’t use cash.

Always ask for the e-option

Zimbabwean Police, ZRP, Roadblock

Everybody understands the situation that we are in right now so before making any payment ALWAYS ask for the option to pay electronically. Sure, there might be some haggling after this but it could help save that extra bit of cash that you need for that cash only service or instance like your bus trip or that ZRP spot fine.



  1. G

    this cash crisis might actually boost the zimbabwean internet economy

    1. Siege

      It may boost internet payment activity but not the economy. Digital money cannot exist without physical cash reserves. The reason why we this crisis now is because treasury has been taking hard cash in exchange for treasury bonds, making RBZ create numbers that are not backed by cash in the RTGS system. Now, if you import anything for your business you will now, because you (or your bank) has to have hard cash reserves in nostro…hence you see now banks telling us that deposits into prepaid visa and master cards have to be done in cash, not transfer. If businesses can’t import goods or materials, then there will be nothing to sell, and nothing to buy! We need to produce goods and services to earn us hard forex, that is the only solution!

      1. G

        true, i meant that it might do the following
        1. force banks/mno to reduce transaction fees on mobile money services & money trasnfer
        2. force people to learn how to use technology inorder to transact which might lead to higher web literacy
        3. force people to buy good and services online

        all this might lead to more people using web platforms for buying and selling and increasing trust in web platforms for doing business

        i doubt bond notes will succeed as people will just reject them – this will force government to use the rand – things will then normalize (the zimbabwean normal)

        but the effects this will have had on the internet economy will be permanent. i.e in Bulawayo there is a startup called foodie that delivers food – many people might actually turn to these and the likes of 10nga

        1. farai chafesuka

          i dont really understaand,you imply simply reject bond,forcing people to pay online and what is internet economy?G you are not the brightest light in the chandellier,Leave economics to the fundis.Absolutely nothing wrong with bond notes coz you are still to try them.

      2. Aknito

        Very correct, I don’t who told Zimbabweans that you can create wealthy from playing with figures without producing anything for export…

  2. ggg

    has papu paacho will.the police stop spot fines. hapana madhiri akadaro. even Paine.mabond ziva kuti they will still say we.did not get a.directive and can.only take us dollars and rands

  3. themx

    Has anyone been able to pay with ecocash mastercard or any mastercard or visa online lately. Tried to pay online with ecocash mastercard on a number of sites and the card is being declined.

    1. S

      Not working, no. Their support team though promises resolution. Whether that’s true or PR speak? Your guess is as good as mine

    2. Pinkbaby99

      Yeah. Buy the virtual card number (vcn) on the ecocash menu. It must be 50cents and they’ll send you a mastercard number, the cvv as well as the expiry date. It expires in 2weeks and u can make…i think 8 purchases per vcn. The actual card doesnt work for online purchases. I dont how they reckon that but i jabe made plenty payments online. Only problem is when u need proof of payment coz the statement just shows amounts and not what u purchsed. So that’s lots of fun with zimra, coz if u want to prove the cost of that item they will make it impossible and make up fairytale prices from the top of their heads. Excuse my language but zimra guys are assholes. Anyway, the conclusion of the matter is you can make online payments but u gotta get the vcn.

      1. Avo_Br

        the virtual card aint working for my international online payments also even when linked with paypal…card keeps getting rejected (tried changing cards also)
        @Pinkbaby99 ..when did you last successfully use your ecocash virtual card to make an online transaction?
        @techzim…any heads up on the matter guys?

        1. William Chui

          Initially thought it was not working too (tried to pay Amazon, whom we’ve been paying every month using our Ecocash VCN, and the payment has been failing) but then managed to make a PayPal transfer that was linked to my VCN.

          So yes, some places online you can pay, some you can not.

          We’re monitoring the situation.

    3. We Want Zimbabwe Back

      Go to an econet shop and tell them to renew your mastercard number and CVV

    4. Believer

      I used Visa last night (11 June 2016) successfully, i think your issue is with your card, nothing else

  4. meme

    Haa zimswitch is getting richer then. Apa yu say it like its for free. Kubirwa nokubirwa kwoga kwoga. Its sad to be Zimbo. Taking frm the poor n making the rich zimswitch richer.

  5. me

    This is a good research ad advise. 1st article I applaude you

    1. magame

      Is this an advert. Mostly a single company for each point. Quite clever bcoz readers have taken this as simple advice yet the companies may have paid for it.

      1. William Chui

        Hi Magame,
        We have a strict policy of notifying our readers in advance that this is ‘paid for work’ (usually you will see that the article is categorised as ‘Sponsored’.

        In this case, we’ve just found methods of which to help readers, ones that work for us too here in the office.

        If you find it useful too, please look beyond the naming of brands, products and services and try to see the advise as it is: us trying to help others who may have been badly burnt in 2008.

        If you have methods that you are currently employing to get your cash out or to ease the pain of the cash crisis, do share, as we’d all love to read about them…

        1. Engines

          Well another one, if you cant link your bank account to your mobile wallet, and of course given you have a visa/mastercard, you can send the money via World Remmitt to your mobile account. You need a UK phone and address though, and it may be a bit steep on charges. But you get the cash instantly!

  6. zim dev

    Good points u guys have brought up dai mataura nemaTelecoms company enyu aya instead of spamming us with their useless text messages about useless promotions they should just sent these points to us randomly and design them in a way that promotes their products too.

  7. Sam

    Thanks for the write-up, picked up some good points in here.

    Does anyone here order their grocers online? I’d like to know on which website(s), and if that’s more cost-efficient than commuting – I mean if you find the same benefits of e-shopping as you otherwise would in the developed world (lower prices, etc)

    1. William Chui

      For now you will find that the prices are the same or a little higher (yeah, go figure). Few providers offer discounted prices due to less overheads selling online.

      However, right now, when you can’t get a hold of your cash, better to use it to buy the daily things you’d usually do with your cash, online.

      For the record, I’m yet to explore buying locally online but am seriously thinking about it, perhaps my next pay cheque (inserts a request to his employer)

      1. Sam

        Hope employer agrees to that. I’d want to know how far local online shops can bring the convenience they promise in theory.

        Trust you’re doing great my boss!

      2. Legolas

        Do you know if the Ecocash virtual card is 3D secure?

  8. Shumbaimwe

    No to this rubbish of bond notes.

  9. Legolas

    @William do you know if the Ecocash virtual card is 3D secure?

    1. William Chui

      I do not think they are (my personal assessment, you’ll have to reach out to Ecocash for statement from them, good luck with that as most of the customer care reps don’t know much about the product).

      However, there is a minor hack that you can use to make sure that you don’t get siphoned of your hard earned cash:
      1. When registering your VCN or physical mastercard you give it a unique nickname (for letters/numbers)
      2. You then can activate and deactivate this card as and when you need to use it.
      3. After you use a card, deactivate it and only activate it when you want to make a payment
      4. Other method is to make sure you only put money in your Ecocash when you want to make a payment, but the way that this cash crisis is going that will be very difficult,

      Hope that helps.

  10. Disgusted

    Does the general public have bank accounts, cash cards????? What are you smoking? Majority of the population have no clue of what you are on about.

    1. William Chui

      Then guess that this article is not targeted at ‘the general public’. To whom the cap fits, let them wear it…

  11. esme blair

    Lets be clear…..if there is money to transact, then it does not matter what method of payment is used. The operative word is….CASH SHORTAGE in the economy. Unless the ECONOMY is revived and Zimbabwe goes back to economic stability and attracts investment….you cannot GENERATE CASH to fill bank coffers with sound employment and production. All of the advise is not acknowledging the real problem… Zimbabwe and its people will lurch around trying to make a plan.

  12. esme blair

    Lets be clear…..if there is money to transact, then it does not matter what method of payment is used. The operative word is….CASH SHORTAGE in the economy. Unless the ECONOMY is revived and Zimbabwe goes back to economic stability and attracts investment….you cannot GENERATE CASH to fill bank coffers without sound employment and production. All of the advise is not acknowledging the real problem… Zimbabwe and its people will lurch around trying to make a plan. Good advice. But it does not address long term solutions.

  13. Melissa

    Too bad none of these work for foreigners. We had to skip all the things we planned in Harare and Boloweo because we could not get cash after we left Masvingo – and credit cards are not accepted widely in Zim. Vic Falls is the only cash-friendly place for foreigners – if you can afford their tourist prices. We’re spending our money in Botswana. Big loss for Zim. Sad for us — we were so looking forward to our off-the-tourist-trail travels in Zim.

  14. Sam Dziva

    Techzim your proposas are noble but not very practical, point of sale locations are very limited in Zim and they are frequently offline for reasons better known to the service providers and shops, there are some shops that makes it appear that the system is offline and they actually swipe your card to show you that they are offline but alas if one is IT compliant the message response displayed will clearly show you that you had been played for dumb….local host or internal host offline basically means the shop has plucked of the data cable or just changed the IP address to hood wink the users. Quite a number of shops (even the chain major stores) are no longer offering cash back..unonzwa hanty mukutenga chete…no cash back. Ecocash aah tikungoita $20 ‘cash back’ chete asi ‘cash in’ any amt kkkk. Hazvisi kushanda zvamukutaura izvi…nxaa. Mapurisa acho ngaapihwe ma swipe machines

  15. Sija

    Thank you for sharing. It doesn’t solve the real challenge but at least they are more convenient methods

  16. Brian

    Please add me to your mailing list


    WAY OUT OF CASH CRISIS IS PRODUCE PRODUCE PRODUCE ,EXPORT EXPORT EXPORT .lets use the little we get from mineral sales to benefit manufacturing industries.

  18. Lilly Shama

    Dear writer. firstly thank you so much for your insight. I think you have done your level best to enlighten us. The bottom line though, we can argue and try to come up with different ideas but this wont solve anything. Lets remember the creator the owner of everything in this world. Do you ever question yourselves why this is happening. I will tell you. At times God allows hardships so that we remember Him and seek Him. 2008 people prayed with all their hearts and God answered. So today instead of complaining lets bow down our heads and seek God, His the only solution and the answer to every problem.

    Lastly praise God for all what is happening and stop critisicing for the tongue is powerful it carries life and death. So whatever you are saying it manifest and becomes real. Be careful what comes out of your mouths. Only say positive things and not negative things and lets control our thoughts and minds, and allow them to think good things only and you will see good things coming our way. if you didnt know the devil works with our minds he manipulates our minds but let us not allow him but let all our thoughts be from God, the lliving God and creator of the universe. God said we should not worry about anything he is our provider and will provide for us. but lets trust and believe in Him. He knows everything and even what is happening now. lets pray for one another and love one another. And lets not blame anyone but instead pray for them.

    I hope this will change your way of thinking.

    God bless you all and I love you all.

  19. Madzibaba

    4 months down the line… we are now in shitt

  20. ralph pessers

    Zimbabwe should heavily invest into cryptocurrencies. The future of money.