THE eagerly awaited new Zimbabwe bond notes have arrived! The red $10 notes were put into circulation by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), with the new blue-grey $20 notes going public in the first week of June.
Weekly cash withdrawal limits more than tripled from $300 to $1 000 from today.
All businesses in the formal sector have been accepting debit cards or mobile money transfers for some time now, are unlikely to be affected positively or negatively by the new notes, and even in the informal sector, vegetable vendors are increasingly advertising their EcoCash numbers for mobile money transfers.
There are micro-businesses who offer lower prices for cash, and the increased quantity of cash in circulation is likely to reduce the discount given for banknotes, with all prices tending to come close to the digital money prices. It was too early yesterday to see what effect the extra cash in circulation was having on the market.
Most people do need cash for bus fare, although Zupco has introduced tap cards and there is no difference between cash and tap fares.
The Covid-19-induced national lockdown, which has been extended indefinitely, has made it difficult for people to access new Zupco tap cards, although those with such cards can prepay them at some retail and other shops.
With independent commuter omnibuses suspended from operating, only Zupco buses and contracted transporters allowed to offer public transport, it is likely that cash fares will in the end, be replaced by tap cards.
However, pirate operators, the mushikashika and private motorists offering lifts still demand cash.
Availability of banknotes should see the premiums demanded by sellers of cash for mobile transfers dropping, as supply increases to meet demand.