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Time Bank finally reopens

TIME Bank of Zimbabwe has finally re-opened, more than 18 years after it was closed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) in 2004.

The re-opening follows authorisation by the central bank, and the financial institution is bullish about future prospects.

“Time Bank of Zimbabwe re-opened on October 27, 2022, following authorisation by the RBZ,” Time Bank said in a notice.

Recently, the RBZ advised the public that Time Bank had been authorised to operate following a pre-opening inspection.

A pre-opening inspection is a rigorous exercise done by the regulator to ensure everything is in order before it is allowed to operate.

It involves verifying the bank’s capital requirements and evaluating its executive and non-executive directors to ensure they are fit to manage the financial institution.

“Time Bank’s return to the market is something to watch out for because it has been known for innovation,” the bank said.

Time Bank will operate a new business model where it will not take deposits but will lend to clients.In a notice issued this week, the Chris Takura Tande-led institution said Time Bank will provide mortgage loans with effect from  October 27, 2022, and other loans, with effect from December 1, 2022, including “exporters’ loans including first-time exporters, corporate loans, factoring of book debts, discounting of medium-term bills and promissory notes, discounting of exporters’ receivables and consumer loans”. 

Time Bank will also offer portfolio management services, advisory services, financial agency services and consultancy services with effect from December 1 2022.

The bank added that it will focus on investment banking.  Founded by Tande, Time Bank began operations in 1997 becoming the first locally-owned indigenous commercial bank. 

Time Bank was closed in 2004 while its licence was cancelled in 2006 by the apex bank.  The bank disputed the reasons for its closure and cancellation of licence, becoming the the first bank to take the RBZ to court.

The protracted legal battles unearthed that the RBZ owed the bank US$5 million before its closure, which created financial problems for the bank. 

As Time Bank demanded a refund of the money, RBZ responded by putting the bank under curatorship in 2004 before cancelling the license. 

After the cancellation of its licence, the RBZ tried to put Time Bank into Zabg, but Time Bank objected.

Also after the end of curatorship, Time Bank paid its depositors  and its staff members their full salaries and terminal benefits without borrowing from RBZ or without new money from its shareholders or Deposit Protection Corporation.

The courts reinstated the licence of Time Bank in 2009 but the bank could not operate, as the RBZ could not do a handover of the assets and documents from the former curator to the bank’s directors.

In 2015, the RBZ and Time Bank entered into a settlement agreement, under which the RBZ agreed to refund Time Bank the  US$5 million. 

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