Econet Today launched a revolutionary, EcoCash powered debit card in conjunction with MasterCard, making it possible for Zimbabweans to actually buy direct and and transact from anyway or online using their card.
After Telecel recently launched their Zimswitch based card, Econet mainly because they just do not have friends from the bank, did it a bit different and looked over the local market and offered something much more international, a move which set to excite Zimbabweans who need to trade online or those travelling beyond borders.
We will look at the differences of the cards later on but here is how Econet is playing it all out.
By Alan Shirichena
According to Econet the collaboration will result in more than three million MasterCard debit cards being issued to mobile money provider EcoCash’s customers in the next five years. This is the first time that physical MasterCard debit cards are available to people using mobile money services in Africa, and is the largest rollout of secure EMV Chip and PIN payment cards in Zimbabwe to date.
The card is a development of its already existing Virtual platform launched in March 2014. Mr Douglas Mboweni said the rate of innovation within Econet which has averaged at least one product launch every month will not slow down and many more launches are coming.
Speaking on the Launch of the EcoCash Debit Card Mr Douglas Mboweni said, “The debit card comes in primarily to solve the challenges experienced by its predecessor, the virtual card. The virtual card although convenient suffered from transaction turnover challenges. For those who used it they can testify that whenever they utilized the platform turnover time was an issue especially with regards to keying in the transaction, getting it authorized and finally resolved all the while waiting for communication to be made with the retailer. In most cases paying by cash was a lot faster and at times more convenient.”
The Debit Card comes in to address these issues by and large whilst also offering convenience and reliability to Econet customers. The beauty of the card is that it is not a prepaid card, it is linked to one’s EcoCash account or the EcoCash Save account utilizing the EcoCash wallet Balance that is accessible on ones’ cellphone. The card comes with a pin to ensure it security.
The card will be available to anyone and everyone who has an EcoCash Account that is active and transacting at least $5 weekly. The card costs $2 and transaction costs range from $0.30 to $2.45, these costs are below cost price, however to better serve the customer EcoCash CEO Mr C Tembedza said we will maintain them for the benefit of the customer. The costs are also the cheapest locally.
The benefits of the card are as follows: It promotes financial inclusion, it promotes a cashless society, improves visibility of transactions and its a wallet without a wallet.
In the initial phase 3 million cards will be offered to Zimbabweans through over 700 registered agents, Econet Shops and Steward Bank branches locally. This initial uptake does not mean only 3 million EcoCash subscribers will utilize the product. As demand increases for the product more cards will be rolled out to those requiring the service, the ideal being everyone of the Econet subscribers having their own Debit Card.
A similar product was launched by Telecel a fortnight ago under the brand name Telecel GoldCard. The Telecel GoldCard aims to answer the same problems Econet hopes to answer with its own product however the GoldCard does not come with the MasterCard partrnership.
Across borders the EcoCash Debit Card will still be significant as one can use it there and when it comes to issues of exchange rates, EcoCash will facilitate that. If you go to RSA when you transact or withdraw cash you will have your funds denominated in Rands, be it in the UK your money will be denoted in Euro or Pound Sterling. This is thanks to the MasterCard partnership. So long as your EcoCash wallet balance is healthy your transactions are guaranteed over ATM’s, Point Of Sell terminals and Swipe machines.
No longer does one need to travel with wads of notes, be it Rand or United States dollars, just have an Econet Debit Card and your money will be held in a form that is safe. Just remember to keep your pin safe from prying eyes. Should you lose or misplace your card just report it and your card will be blocked and replaced.
Its a card for everyone banked and unbanked and it can be used locally and internationally.
How Do I Activate The EcoCash Debit Card?
– The agent links the card to the wallet.
– Customer activates the card using the EcoCash menu
EcoCash Debit Card allows you to pay for goods and services at over 47 million internationally and over 10 000 points locally. The card itself is a chip and pin card that cannot be easily cloned as it has a security chip, it makes use of a PIN at point of transaction, it allows secure online payments and is the only MasterCard linked to your mobile phone.
Transacting will never be the same, Telecel GoldCard versus EcoCash Debit Card, whats your preference ?