Interfin faces ZSE axing

INTERFIN Bank Limited (Interfin), which has been facing a serious cash crisis, now faces the boot from the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE), insiders have revealed.

"The cash is coming in envelopes at its branches scattered around the country. they no longer have security vehicles delivering money from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe."

Sources within the banking industry said in separate interviews that Interfin could be closed by the RBZ if its woes continued in the country.

"They are tarnishing the image of black bankers," a senior banker said in an interview.

"They make it seem as though we blacks cannot run commercial banks just like what happened to the late Roger Boka during his days with his bank."

Boka was the first black Zimbabwean to operate a commercial bank which, however, collapsed sending shock waves within the country's fragile financial services sector.

Interfin Bank Limited has now been booted out of the prestigious Zimswitch facility.

It is also heavily in debt especially to its business partners.

Zimswitch is the swipe card facility that allows all banks, including building societies, to allow their customers to pay for groceries as well as services without using cash.

They can also receive cash back when they swipe using the Zimswitch facility in virtually all major supermarket chains in Zimbabwe.

They can also pay at hotels and garages anywhere in Zimbabwe.

"We are no longer on Zimswitch," a female Personal Banker said in an exclusive interview at the bank's Executive Branch on Londonderry Road located in Eastlea, Harare.

"I am very sorry we do not have cash today. We are no longer on the Zimswitch facility so you really do not need your new Executive ATM card, Sir."

A visit to the bank's Century Towers Branch along Samora Machel Avenue in Harare showed that there was no cash there on Saturday morning and customers were asked to wait for "any deposits" from companies or individuals banking on that day.

There were more than 60 angry customers packed into the branch on Saturday morning when this Reporter paid a visit to withdraw cash there.

Customers say the cash crisis is worse in other branches countrywide.

Of late, Interfin Bank Limited has had cash delivered in sealed envelopes.

United States dollars recently arrived in an envelope for the more than 100 customers gathered in the banking hall at the Century Towers Branch in Harare.

"Cash has arrived," said a smiling manager to tired customers at around 9:30 am when the cash arrived in a gentleman's jacket.

"This is now getting out of hand," said a tired customer who had come as early as 6:00 am to withdraw cash at the branch.

Some customers went to the branch at the National Social Security Association (NSSA) Branch while the rest went to the branch at Tendeseka in Eastlea.

"They must just give us all our cash today and I am taking my account away from them," said an angry customer at the Towers Branch in Harare.

However, the branch manager told customers not to worry because he was doing all he could to bring cash that day.

"I am doing everything that I can," he said almost in tears.

"I have children too who are starving at home and without cash just like you."

Last week Interfin Bank Limited caused a lot of stress and mayhem for its customers in Harare.

Customers said there is no cash at other branches countrywide even in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city.

"I am very sorry the cash will be available only later in the afternoon," a security guard manning the Century Towers Branch said in an interview last week..

"We will, however, be allowing customers to withdraw only $100 at most. Come back later."

This is not the first time that Interfin Bank has run out of cash at its branches in Harare.

A visit to the Executive Branch in Eastlea also showed that it also had run out of cash.

"Come first thing in the morning tomorrow," a female Personal Banker said in an interview at the branch.

The General Manager at the Century Towers Branch confirmed that cash had indeed run out but "could be available" in the afternoon.

"Check later today," he said.

Interfin Bank Limited is a subsidiary of Interfin Banking Corporation Limited which is listed on the Zimbabwe stock Exchange (ZSE).

It was renamed Interfin after taking over the collapsed Century Bank Limited which was also renamed CFX Banking Corporation Limited.

Customers have also been riled by Interfin which has now cut all swipe "exchanges" with its customers.

Visits to OK Zimbabwe Limited's First Street store showed that they were no longer allowing Interfin swipe cards to be used in their store.

"We no longer accept these cards from Interfin," a teller said in an interview after refusing to allow this customer to swipe for groceries bought in the store.

At TM Supermarket the tellers also refused to accept the Interfin swipe card saying the commercial bank was not paying "its dues on time".

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has threatened to close down commercial banks that did not meet its daily limits as well as capitalisation.

Ironically, Interfrin Bank has said it has followed all RBZ stringent regulations including capitalisation which stands at $15 million for commercial banks operating in Zimbabwe.

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