Zimbabwe’s new gold-backed digital currency: All you need to know | Financial Markets News


Harare, Zimbabwe –  On Monday, Zimbabwe launched a gold-backed digital forex for peer-to-peer and peer-to-business transactions in addition to to behave as a retailer of worth because the nation’s forex continues to lose floor towards main currencies.

“Holders of bodily gold cash, at their discretion, will have the ability to alternate or convert, by way of the banking system… into gold-backed digital tokens,” the Reserve Financial institution of Zimbabwe mentioned in an announcement inviting particular person and company entities to make use of the digital forex that may be purchased both in Zimbabwean {dollars} or international forex.

The southern African nation now joins different African states like Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa which have launched digital currencies, at the same time as a number of others have plans within the works.

However the digital forex, the primary ever by the nation’s central financial institution, hit the market Monday to lukewarm reception from economists and abnormal Zimbabweans.

Right here’s all it’s good to know in regards to the new forex.

What’s a gold-backed digital forex?

Backed by a certain quantity of gold, which helps hold its worth steady, this forex is tied to the market worth of the gold – in contrast to a fiat forex.

The Zimbabwe gold-backed digital forex will likely be used as authorized tender and a retailer of worth alongside the Zimbabwean greenback and bond notes.

Customers should buy and promote it utilizing Zimbabwean {dollars} and different foreign exchange.

Ideally, backing a digital forex with gold includes having a sure measure of gold reserves and relies on the present market worth of gold.

Based on state-owned media reviews, Zimbabwe in April had 350kgs (12,346 ounces) of gold in reserves valued at $22.80m on the present value and intends to construct reserves to round $100m.

Zimbabwe’s gold-backed digital tokens have a vesting interval of 180 days, have a prescribed asset standing, and are acceptable as collateral for loans, too.

Why has the e-currency been launched?

Zimbabwe, the place hyperinflation has been a recurring financial characteristic during the last 20 years, makes use of each the US greenback and the Zimbabwe greenback for transactions.

The most recent transfer to introduce gold-backed cash is a part of a wider plan by the central financial institution to stabilise the nation’s native unit, which has been faltering towards the US greenback, by mopping up extra liquidity out there.

The Zimbabwe greenback is at the moment buying and selling at $1 US for each $2,000 on the black market.

Traditionally, there have been main insurance policies round currencies as authorized tender within the Southern African nation, together with the 2009 adoption of the US greenback after hyperinflation decimated the worth of the native forex.

Right here’s how that unfolded:

Timeline of main insurance policies on authorized tender in Zimbabwe

  • 1980: The Rhodesian greenback is renamed the “Zimbabwe greenback” in 1980 after independence from Britain.
  • 2003: Zimbabwe points the primary sequence of low-denomination bearer cheques to ease money shortages.
  • 2006: The nation points a second sequence of higher-denomination bearer cheques till 2008 with as a lot as 10 trillion greenback notes being issued as inflation ravages the financial system.
  • 2009: A multi-currency system involving the US greenback and different main currencies – such because the euro, the British pound and the South African rand – is adopted to finish hyperinflation.
  • 2009: The Zimbabwe greenback is demonetised (struck off as authorized tender) as using multi-currencies takes priority.
  • 2016: The bond be aware, a forex the central financial institution claims has the identical worth because the US greenback, is launched in December.
  • 2018:  Zimbabwe once more reintroduces the Zimbabwe greenback, also called the true time gross settlement (RTGS) greenback.
  • 2019: The US greenback is outlawed in native transactions.
  • 2022: Zimbabwe launches gold cash to stabilise faltering forex.
  • 2023: Zimbabwe introduces gold-backed digital forex.


Some are of the view that latest developments are a part of a wider technique in direction of an ongoing re-dollarisation course of. Zimbabwe was compelled to desert using US {dollars} after dollars vanished from circulation. To repair the issue, the nation’s central financial institution launched bond notes in 2016, a forex it mentioned had the identical worth because the buck.

Final June, Zimbabwe launched gold cash to stabilise the forex. However this has not slowed down the fast devaluation of the Zimbabwe unit towards the US and different main currencies.

The Zimbabwean greenback – which is at the moment buying and selling at $1US: $2,000 – was $1US: $650 on the black market in June final 12 months, when cash have been launched.

How has the e-currency been obtained?

“These are monetary devices designed to provide an funding different to gold cash and different asset courses,” Clive Mphambela, the chief director of communications within the Ministry of Finance and Financial Improvement, informed Al Jazeera.

However economists usually are not satisfied by projections for the e-currency.

Godfrey Kanyenze, economist and founding father of the Labour and Financial Improvement Analysis Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ), lauded the introduction of the digital forex however mentioned it could not clear up Zimbabwe’s forex woes.

“Whereas the concept of launching digital cash is noble because it mops up extra liquidity and stabilises the native unit, that is no totally different from the gold cash launched by the central financial institution final 12 months which have did not stem the cash provide progress,” Kanyenze informed Al Jazeera.

He mentioned Zimbabwe was at the moment grappling with a “confidence and belief deficit emanating from legacy points equivalent to when the nation skilled hyperinflation that resulted in 2009 the place individuals misplaced their cash and financial savings.”

“The truth is that whereas the gold-backed digital cash are good, they … cater to the wealthy and are exclusionary,” Kanyenze mentioned. “Atypical individuals don’t have financial savings and face excessive poverty, which is not less than 40 p.c. It’s essential however the gold cash additionally didn’t go far in fixing the issues.”

Former Finance Minister Tendai Biti attacked the brand new digital forex, saying the central financial institution ought to as an alternative set up market stability by floating the Zimbabwe greenback.

“The introduction of the gold-backed digital forex is due to this fact a psychopathic train in self-delusion,” he mentioned. “The Zimbabwe greenback has failed due to the absence of belief within the regime. The digital forex will undergo the identical brutal destiny that the native greenback faces.”

Others mentioned a scarcity of belief within the e-currency might hinder progress.

Steve Hanke, a professor of utilized economics at John Hopkins College within the US, mentioned the gold cash are sure to fail just like the gold cash earlier than them.

“After making inaccessible gold cash authorized tender in 2022, Zimbabwe is attempting to salvage the Zim greenback with one other weird concept: introducing a digital forex subsequent month,” Hanke mentioned. “Sufficient is sufficient. Zim should mothball the Reserve Financial institution & formally undertake the USD.”

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