Econet Wireless Zimbabwe’s mobile money platform, Ecocash has run out of cash amid indications that some agents were going for days without conducting a single transaction.
As the nation grapples with serious cash shortages, the future of mobile money business hangs in balance while other mobile players completely failed to make any national impact leaving Ecocash unspared.
A survey by TechnoMag unearthed that most agents had closed shop while some were moving as little as $10 a day while customers are failing to cash-out money as agents do not have cash or float to enable them to conduct transactions.
Mobile money agents who spoke to this publication indicated that mobile business was gradually become irrelevant as there wasn’t any hard cash to back the business.
“Our business is severely affected by this cash crisis considering that we only get a commission from the transactions we would have conducted. I have gone for close to a week without conducting a single transaction; I am contemplating closing as this is now unsustainable,” said Tinashe Tsotsonga a mobile money agent along Rezende.
Despite Ecocash having the widest mobile money network coverage, most agents are battling to earn a living with their ventures owing to the tight cash crisis which has brought most businesses to a halt.
Ecocash’s woes began when support banks like Steward Bank stopped giving agents money following reports of usurious deals by agents.
According to the 2017 Monetary Policy, in 2016 mobile money payments in Zimbabwe accounted for 81.2% of all electronic payment transactions maintaining the dominance mobile money services have had in transaction volumes. During the year 298.59 million mobile mon
Due to the prevailing cash woes, most Zimbabweans had resorted to alternative payments systems like mobile money and plastic money in a bid cushion themselves from the cash quagmire.
Ecocash recently reduced its monthly foreign withdrawal limit on MasterCards by 20% to $400, as the country’s foreign currency position worsens. Clients, who want to use the cards outside Zimbabwe, will now be required to apply for the special consideration at least 72 hours before departure.
Clients would be expected to provide a travel itinerary and expected expenses to be incurred while travelling outside the country at any branch or via email with their applications.
Efforts to get comment from Ecocash general manager Natalie Jabangwe-Morris were fruitless by the time of publishing.