Zimbabwe’s mobile money industry could realise modest growth if there is collaboration and interoperability among players. These remarks were made by Telecel Zimbabwe head of Mobile Financial Services Mrs Violet Masunda at the Mobile Money and Digital Payments Conference held last Friday.
Despite Ecocash dominating the mobile money market, its competitors witnessed a growth of their subscriber bases. According to the2017 first quarter report by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe, One Wallet posted a 65 percent surge of subscribers leaping from 8 200 to 10 000.Telecash accumulated 52 000 in Q1 2017 compared to Q4 2016s figure of 49 500 subscribers. That said, Telecash was the only mobile financial services provider to post an increase of mobile money agents as others went the negative trend attributed to the prevalent cash crunch. She said collaborative efforts could boost Zimbabwe’s mobile financial services.
“We also have challenges in as far as the ecosystem is concerned. We have not yet gotten to that stage where there is full interoperability.
“For instance, there is no wallet to wallet transactions as we speak. Here Im talking about the MNOs. There are also other players in the market like the Getcash of this world, which are the OTT we are talking about. In as far as industry collaboration is concerned there is still lack of industry collaboration,” said Masunda.
Given the high MFS tariffs that Zimbabweans are peevish about, full interoperability, according to Masunda, will help lower the charges.
“The market is sensitive that mobile money tariffs are a bit on the high. One of the reasons why is really as an industry we are not really fully interoperable. So there is still scope to improve on efficiency by interoperability,” she added.
She also noted that the cash crisis is affecting their operations forcing most of MFS industry agents closing shop.
“This also brings the issue of KYC where you could have recruited an agent and given then a kiosk. That agent is no longer operating from that kiosk but is operating elsewhere.
She said since the ‘cash-out’ service was an attraction to customers , the shortage of cash is affecting their revenues.
“The cash challenges have also presented challenges to the MFS operators like ourselves, the MSF channel partners mainly the agents, then the MFS subscribers.
“So us, the MFS operators we have actually seen revenue decline because the traditional use case for us was the cash-out.
“Yes there are other use cases that were available but cash out was the predominant use cash. If you look at mature markets like Kenya payments just account for 1 percent of revenues, cash out still remains the best use case,” noted Masunda.
Meanwhile Telecel developed a voucher management system for NGOs, Government and corporates to distribute aid and farming inputs via mobile.