Harare - Zimbabwean banks have finally agreed to reduce bank charges and lending rates, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has said.
The new measures take effect on February 1.
In his presentation of Zimbabwe’s 2013 Monetary Policy Statement on Thursday, RBZ governor Gideon Gono said banks have agreed to peg lending rates at not more than 12.5% above the bank’s weighted average cost of funds.
Previously lending rates in Zimbabwe were as high as 33% per annum.
Banks also agreed to pay a minimum interest rate of 4% for term deposits of $1 000 or more held over a period of 30 days. Since dollarisation most banks were not paying interest rates on deposits, forcing many Zimbabweans to stay away from the banks.
This meant that the bulk of deposits in the country’s banking sector were transitory and short-term.
The RBZ governor also announced that banks were to reduce their charges for individuals with monthly deposits less than or equal to $800.
The agreed charges for cash withdrawals are now up to 0.5% of cash withdrawn. The amount is however subject to a minimum fee of $2.50.
ATM withdrawal fees are now pegged at $4, while point of sale charges will range between $0.10 and $0.50 per transaction.
High bank charges in the country had resulted in financial exclusion for many Zimbabweans.
According to the Zimbabwe Statistical Office's last report on the financial sector, 40% of Zimbabweans are financially excluded (i e do not use financial products, whether formal or informal, to manage their financial lives).