The recent Monetary Policy Statement (MPS) reintroduced Bureaux De Change (BDC). As a follow up to that development, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has now come up with operational guidelines to regulate how the BDCs will be registered and operated. Let us look at some of the key guidelines.
Apart from the application form, a business plan and 5-year projections of growth and profitability are required. In addition, a business risk management plan identifying the business risks and mitigating measures should also be attached to the application. There is also need for an anti money laundering certificate or endorsement by the Financial Intelligence Unit that the applicant has a sufficient and effective anti money laundering and combatting of terrorism financing framework. Company registration documents (CR14), the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority tax clearance certificate and police clearance from the Zimbabwe Republic Police are also required.
Capital requirements and fees
The minimum capital required in order to get a licence for a BDC is a non-interest bearing US$15 000. Licence fees are $500 for a head office, $200 for a branch in the city and $50 for a rural branch. These licences are renewable at a cost of $250, $100 and $50 respectively. These are presumably RTGS$ as all other amounts in the document are specifically quoted as US dollars.
Each applicant needs to provide proof that they can install a robust computer system with an accounting software and communication equipment to aid transaction processing and reporting to the central bank when they first apply. After being granted an approval in principle, you can then install the system and arrange for a pre-inspection by the RBZ. Closed circuit television also needs to be installed. In addition, a rate board, panic buttons and note detecting machines or pens should also be in place. Ideally, the Reserve Bank needs to see these when they come for the inspection of your premises before awarding you the actual licence.
In terms of the MPS, Bureaux de Change are allowed to buy and sell foreign currency from walk in clients for settlement of small value international transactions for professional subscriptions, business and holiday travelling expenses. At all times, paperwork relating to the reason why your client needs the forex is required. The maximum daily limit that each BDC is allowed to sell is US$10 000 or its equivalent in other currencies. Furthermore, each BDC is allowed to keep a daily float of not more than US$20 000 cash in vault per branch.
BDC licences are revocable if certain rules are flouted. These include, multiple ownership of BDCs, failure to operate after being granted a licence, failure to submit Exchange Control reports and failure to comply with other Exchange Control regulations among other things. Less serious violations may attract fines or other sanctions. These include late or non-submission of Exchange Control returns, employing directors and management without Exchange Control approval, change of ownership without Exchange Control approval, failure to submit audited financial statements and/ or board reports among other violations.
While this is not all, we have covered the most important requirements and guidelines for the operation of BDCs. Click here to download the full document. It remains to be seen how many BDCs will successfully register to operate and if this arrangement is here to stay this time around.