ELECTRONIC BANKING CRISIS
Mozambique’s electronic banking system, operated by SIMO (Mozambique Interbanking Company), has been unavailable since the weekend, not because of any technical fault, but because the Portuguese company that owns the software application, BizFirst, has cut Mozambique off.
Most Mozambican banks are partners in SIMO, at the insistence of the Bank of Mozambique, which holds a 51 per cent stake in SIMO. The largest commercial bank, however, the Millennium-BIM (International Bank of Mozambique), is outside of SIMO as is the Mozambican branch of the Nigeria-based United Bank for Africa (UBA) which has not yet joined SIMO, but it has very few clients.
The collapse of SIMO’s network means that most bank cards and ATM’s are not working. Shops and other establishments are declining SIMO cards. With SIMO POS (Point of Sale) card readers not working, customers are forced to pay for purchases in cash and queue up at bank branches to withdraw cash.
Travellers to Mozambique in the coming weeks should ensure they have sufficient hard cash for the duration of their stay in the country. There is currently no indication as to when the issue will be resolved, with speculation that it could take up to six months.