South Africa’s pay-TV giant MultiChoice has managed to persuade Zimbabwe’s Central Bank to allow MultiChoice’s DStv subscribers to pay their monthly fees in foreign currency.
Zimbabwe banks were not permitting subscriptions to be paid in anything other than local currency, and there were widespread restrictions in place during this latest period of extreme financial uncertainty. Zimbabwe’s own ‘Zimbabwe Dollar’ currency is near-worthless.
Some subscribers were getting around the currency restrictions by getting friends and relatives living outside Zimbabwe (generally in South Africa) to pay their monthly TV subscription fees.
MultiChoice says texts have been sent to all Zimbabwe subscribers telling them that payments could now be made locally in US dollars.
Zimbabwe is an extremely important market for MultiChoice. Zimbabwe’s (Central) Reserve Bank admitted that some $90 million was being sent to DStv by Zimbabweans in 2016. It will likely be more currently.
However, faithful subscribers are not finding life easy. First, despite the system being modified to allow payments, the paying bank still has to process the transaction and typical 18-hours a day power cuts seriously interferes with day-to-day processing at banks. Then, of course, once the subscription has been paid a viewer is likely to find themselves subject to a power cut.