With the closure of bureaux de change across all major cities in Tanzania, commercial banks have stepped in to fill the high demand gap.
Since last year, Tanzania’s Central Bank has been executing an executive order to look into the operations of all forex bureaus in the country. Tanzania’s President John Magufuli said bureaus are been used to evade tax and possibly conduct money laundry and ordered investigations.
As a result the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) shut down all bureaux de change in Arusha and only last month it shut down another 50 bureaux de change in Dar es Salaam.
It is reported that the forex bureaus were operating illegally with one taking legal registration and licensing and then operating several other bureaus under the same license. Worse still, scores of bureaus were discovered to be operating without any registration at all.
That been the case, banks are now the authorised money changers and the market is huge. The digital migration of clients that was going on across most all major banks that was leaving bank halls empty, seems to have come to a halt as more and more people walk into banks looking to change their foreign currencies.
Forex services done at ATMs
The banks have also been quick to adapt and introduced various quick stop shops/stations or otherwise mobile facilities where clients can stop and change currency. Currency changing services are now even done at ATMs allowing clients to change money almost anywhere in the country.
Speaking to press earlier in the week, Philip Alfred, the Director of Alternative Banking Channels at CRDB Bank, one of the five largest banks in the country said the bank is setting up money changing stations across all its branches countrywide.
Notably CRDB has the most number of bank branches than any other bank in Tanzania.
He is quoted in local media saying the move is meant to ‘…ensure that these services are readily available throughout the country.”
In the interim, money changing services are available in commercial banks, the Tanzania Post Corporation offices across the country and a few financial institutions.
Fate Of The Forex Bureaus
The Bank of Tanzania (BoT) says following investigations it has conducted, it is evident that the forex bureaus have in fact been dodging the law and outright conducting criminal activities.
So does this mean the end of burears de change in Tanzania? Bank of Tanzania’s Head of Communications Ms Zalia Mbeo, says, its too early to make a definitive statement because investigations are still underway.
However it is safe to say, it is not the end of all bureaus but the guilty ones. It is also safe to assume that the regulations and licensing procedures will only get tougher when the investigations are over and the sub-sector is revived.
But for now, if you are in Tanzania or planning to visit don’t bother entering any store that says ‘Forex Bureau’ money changing services are only conducted at post offices and in banks and their alternative channels.