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Zambia: consumers cry foul over service provider pressure

By , ITWeb’s Zambian correspondent.
Zambia , 14 Jan 2016

Zambia: consumers cry foul over service provider pressure

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has warned service providers within the mobile money market against forcing consumers to use relevant services to perform transactions.

The regulatory body says it has been approached by consumers who are querying the legality of being pressured to make use of non-money based solutions such as e-Wallet and mobile money, among others.

Parret Muteto, CCPC research analyst said consumers are being forced to either purchase a particular SIM card and or register for mobile money in order to transact.

Muteto said the Commission would like to remind mobile money service providers that Zambia has a defined legal tender as provided under the Bank of Zambia Act of 1996, which provides that the unit of currency of Zambia is the Kwacha and the ngwee.

He explained the CCPC Act of 2010 also prohibits trading practices that coerce consumers. "While the Commission appreciates other payment systems being used in Zambia, businesses should always recall that these are based on the Zambian kwacha as the legal tender (currency). Thus the Kwacha and ngwee are legally recognised currency and cannot be rejected by any other trader for any business transaction," Muteto said.

Local consumer Edith Zulu told ITWeb Africa that she could not buy goods from a trader in the capital Lusaka because he demanded to transact through mobile money, a facility that she doesn't have and has never used. "He demanded that I use mobile money but when I told him said I do not have the facility, he said I could not buy the products I wanted," she said.

Muteto said consumers should be allowed to freely use the method of payment of their choice and should not be dictated to by the service providers. Other methods of payment, such as mobile money, cheque and Visa, can be rejected by the trader if that trader chooses not to use them, he said.

According to Muteto the Commission will not hesitate to take remedial steps if the practice of coercing consumers continues unabated.

Statistics from the Bank of Zambia show that the number of mobile money users in Zambia now stands at 3.5 million.

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