SUPPLIERS of telecommunications concern Econet Wireless are up in arms over a recent directive compelling them to open accounts with the mobile phone operator’s bank, Steward Bank, businessdigest has established.
In a letter to suppliers from Econet group chief finance officer Roy Chimanikire, suppliers were told to open accounts with Steward Bank. He added failure to do so would result in the suppliers failing to access their payments.
“We write to advise that with effect from February 17 2014, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe will pay all its suppliers for services rendered to it through EcoCash for all payments within the EcoCash limits approved by the Central Bank,” he said. “All payments above the EcoCash limits will be paid into accounts at Steward Bank. Payments to any recipients without the necessary Steward Bank accounts or EcoCash wallets by February 17 will be withheld until the accounts are available.”
Chimanikire said the changes Econet Wireless Zimbabwe made to the supplier payment process and payment methods would “ensure faster and more effective processing of invoices, which will improve the overall turnaround time for supplier payments”.
Suppliers who spoke to businessdigest said they felt that the directive was unfair as it would force them to open accounts with the bank when they could receive the payments for services in the accounts of their own banks.
“Why should we be forced to open an account by Econet?” one supplier queried. “They are not considering that we have a good relationship with our banks with some of us having taken loans with them. We do not see the need to open another bank account with Steward Bank.”
Other suppliers accused Econet of trying to increase the deposit base of the bank by making it compulsory to open accounts to access their payments.
Econet spokesman Rangarirai Mberi said the decision would improve payments.
“The payments systems for Econet is now integrated with Steward Bank. This means payments to Econet’s suppliers can be made far more efficently,” he said.
“Tracing and referencing payments is also improved. Econet has, however, not asked suppliers to close accounts that they already operate elsewhere or to keep their funds with Steward Bank.”