Today let us look at a recent development pertaining to Nedbank Zimbabwe. It is one of the banks some people recommend for opening a bank account in Zimbabwe. Nedbank is a subsidiary of the Nedbank Group which is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), under which Nedbank Zimbabwe falls. Nedbank is spread out across the whole of Southern Africa. The recent development in question regards Nedbank launching American Express in Zimbabwe. American Express is a globally integrated payments company. It is a premier issuer of personal, small business, and corporate credit cards.

Brief Primer On What Credit Cards Are

What is a credit card? Well, a credit card is typically just like any card you know i.e. physical design and function. What sets it apart is that a credit card enables one to draw on a certain credit limit approved by the card issuer. A card issuer can be a bank, store, or service provider. This means you get to spend now and pay later. Terms and conditions do vary but it is commonplace for credit card holders to be expected to pay for purchases made within 30 days. Otherwise, they can incur interest or even penalties. The credit limit one qualifies for is a function of many variables e.g. one’s credit score. That credit score is determined by a number of things. Will not go into why credit cards are not mainstream in Zimbabwe but you get the picture. The economic environment is not conducive.

What This All Means

Let us delve into what it means that Nedbank is launching American Express in Zimbabwe. Nedbank Zimbabwe will acquire merchants. Merchants here refers to businesses e.g. restaurants, hotels, and the like. This will mean that any international American Express cardholder will be able to use it at the acquired merchants. They will be able to transact both physically and online as well. This implies that Nedbank Zimbabwe will also acquire merchants that are wholly online.

Nedbank Zimbabwe has given assurances that acquired merchants will have access to a wide range of useful tools and services. For instance, merchants will be able to access reconciliation and balancing tools. They will also have access to Nedbank Zimbabwe’s online merchant portal. Thereon they can view and download settlements, submissions, and transactions. Plus they can also use the portal to timeously iron out any queries.

Executive Head of Origination & Sales at Nedbank, Heresy Herry had this to say:

We are pleased to be the acquirer of American Express in Zimbabwe and to allow international American Express card members to use their cards in the country. This will provide the increasing number of tourists and business travellers coming to Zimbabwe greater payment choice. We value the confidence that American Express has placed in us to significantly enhance the payment experience in our market. Furthermore, for our merchants, it provides the opportunity to capture more business from international American Express card members visiting the country.

Global Network Services Vice President at American Express had the following to say:

We are committed to significantly expanding the number of places that accept American Express around the world. The agreement with Nedbank Zimbabwe to enable acceptance of American Express payments in Zimbabwe is just one of the ways in which we are expanding in Africa to enable greater payment choice for business and consumers.

More Of This Is Needed In Zimbabwe

This is a progressive development and more of this is needed in Zimbabwe. Sometime this year a close friend of mine based in Switzerland visited. I recall him having challenges using his international card. Supermarkets would not accept it. We even went to a notable restaurant and they did not accept it. It really got me thinking about how inconvenient it can be for international visitors in Zimbabwe.

Thus developments like this are a breath of fresh air. We need to see more such developments. Ideally, it should get to a point where virtually any notable outlet is able to accept international cards. I believe in the long run this would also pave the way for local Zimbabweans to be allowed to sign up for e.g. American Express locally. This would open up limitless opportunities for business and especially for freelancers.

That is the latest on Nedbank Zimbabwe. There will be some upsides for local businesses and the economy as a whole. That is of course if merchants are willing to be on-boarded. I have noticed that a number of merchants are not keen on receiving cashless US dollar payments. They want cash which is often inconvenient for international clients and locals as well. Let us see how this Nedbank Zimbabwe and American Express partnership pans out.