Mozambique banks in a crisis over debt standoff

Wednesday November 21 2018

A bank customer makes a transaction at an automated teller machine. The banking sector in Mozambique plunged into a crisis on November 16, 2018 over a debt claim by Portuguese service provider Bizfirst. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Mozambique's electronic banking system has been plunged into a crisis over a debt claim by the service provider, the media reported.

The O País newspaper quoted the Bank of Mozambique Governor, Mr Rogério Zandamela, blaming the Portuguese firm, Bizfirst, for the crisis.

The paper quoted Mr Zandamela describing the situation as a cybernetic attack.

Credit and debit

Bizfirst manages the software for the Mozambican Interbank Society (Simo), which controls credit and debit cards and other electronic payments in the southern Africa state.

Majority of the financial institutions are partners in Simo, at the insistence of the Bank of Mozambique, which holds a 51 per cent stake in the former.


Bizfirst reportedly switched off the system last Friday over debt arrears.

It claimed Simo had used its platform without payment and a new contract since the expiry of the one inked in 2016.

Our economy

The only Mozambican bank that uses a different system and was thus unaffected is the Millennium BIM (Banco de Investimentos de Mocambique).

The Mozambican Standard Bank head, Mr Fáusio Mussá, on Tuesday expressed his concern over the standoff.

“This situation has a negative impact on our economy. I am sure authorities will not allow this situation to last longer,” the O País newspaper quoted him saying.

“I am certain that we will not reach Christmas with this difficult situation.”

The Simo network handles an estimated 465,000 transactions a day inside Mozambique and 14,000 internationally.

With the ATMs unable to dispense services, hundreds of clients in Mozambique were now forced to turn to the more expensive and time consuming over-the-counter transactions.