By Ignatious Chikuvadze
MORE than $1 billion exchanged hands through the Econet Wireless mobile payment platform in the first nine months to September as the country’s formal banking sector pushes for more financial inclusion, Reserve of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono has said.
Addressing delegates attending a cocktail recently after the launch of a new EcoCash product, Gono said while the number of people using the banking sector remained low due to various factors including lack of confidence and high bank charges, the mobile banking platform had narrowed the gap between financial inclusion and exclusion.
EcoCashSave, the latest value-added product launched by the mobile phone operator under its EcoCash platform, enables customers to move money from their eWallet to an interest-bearing account in a matter of seconds, without the attendant traditional charges.
According to results of the government-commissioned FinScope survey, 40% of adults were financially excluded and only 24% were banked.
“Between January and September this year, EcoCash pushed a total of $1,1 billion. This represents about 90% of the mobile transactions over the same period. We are in no doubt that this is a measure of success. With this sort of product, we will see 90% of our people, if not 100% being financially included,” Gono said.
Econet agents, who receive $1,15 for every $100,90 cashed in and $2,30 for the same amount cashed, could have also immensely benefited from commission received during the period under review.
Gono said despite this growth, liquidity constraints continued to confront the economy, starving key economic sectors of funding. He added that the launch of EcoCash almost suffered a stillbirth after Zanu PF politicians raised concern that the service could be used to boost financial coffers of opposition parties.
“A lot was said. It was said the product is a political product that will be used by Econet to determine voting patterns against a certain party.
“It was said this was a conspiracy by Econet to send out money to voters and bribe them when the time comes and the governor is part of this conspiracy,” Gono said.