Zimbabwe may not be the first place people think of when they talk about a cashless economy, but the country is speeding toward a cashless future, according to The New York Times. And there is one reason for it: The country is running out of cash, particularly the U.S. dollar, which was adopted in 2009.
According to an NYT report, while most of the country’s population works in the informal economy, the citizens aren’t high-tech and blackouts are a common occurrence, it is becoming a cashless society, as many citizens worry about the country and, as a result, are taking money out of the country. The lack of cash has become such a problem that the government in Zimbabwe launched a media push this week to highlight the soon-to-be-introduced bond notes that will be backed by the African Export-Import Bank and will be interchangeable with the American dollar.
With concerns about cash and a distrust of the government, debit card machines are showing up all over the country in unlikely places, such as churches, betting parlors, nightclubs and parking areas. If there isn’t a card reading machine nearby, shoppers will text payments on their mobile devices.
“We had to migrate to electronic platforms as a matter of necessity, rather than as a matter of choice,” said Clive Mphambela, an advocacy and marketing executive at the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe, in the report. “Zimbabwe is unique in many, many respects, and this is just one of them.”
The report noted that, in places where there is no electricity — let alone cellphone coverage — residents have resorted to bartering because there is so little cash.