NetOne’s One Wallet may have started the big game but the results are yet to surface, Telecash promised a big bang after the launch with lesser impact. But the big fish Ecocash continues to hold the market, for now. However the future of mobile money in Zimbabwe hangs in balance as the general public lose confidence of the whole service.
Nothing pleases a Zimbabwean than smiling all the way to and fro the bank or agent with their money. There used to be smiling faces of people leaving mobile money agents who facilitated quasi-banking transactions to the unbanked. These smiles might soon fade out.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
Could it be the shortage of forex in the country or the MNOs are slacking their businesses which widens their revenue streams? While it seems too superficial, to suggest,mobile money business in Africa is dead without the actual hard cash.
Mobile money came into the country selling big dreams to the unbanked and banked Zimbabweans. But these merchants of fantasies in this current situation are failing to meet their obligations as the cash crisis deepens, heavily affecting the economic growth, spelling gloom for the industry.
These smile soon faded out. Mobile money came into the country selling big dreams to the unbanked and banked Zimbabweans. But these merchants of fantasies in this current situation are failing to meet their obligations.
Millions of Zimbabweans jostled registering their names and mobile numbers to these platforms which promised security and convenience.
Additional features found on the mobile money platforms include buying airtime, paying up bills among others.
The year 2011 saw the birth of Zimbabwe’s largest mobile network operator Econet Wireless Zimbabwe launched their cash cow Ecocash. Ecocash became an instant hit with the public especially the unbanked promising financial inclusion.
With over 9 million subscribers to date, the platform has facilitated over $1 billion in transactions.
It is quite saddening to notice how this giant fell in this turbulent cash crunch with its subscribers on the verge of losing their confidence in the platform.
One goes to an Ecocash agent’s booth trying to squeeze out just the little money they have in their mobile wallet probably to use as bus fare, but alas they don’t have cash, even the bond notes.
In 2014, Ecocash with its innovativeness was to launch a Mastercard debit card allowing users to do online and foreign transactions. Feeling the heat of forex shortages in as from last year, Ecocash reduced the MasterCard transaction limits twice.
In 2013, the state owned MNO NetOne relaunched its mobile money platform under the name One Wallet. With One Wallet, all the banking transactions such as sending, transferring and getting money were cheap. Apparently, NetOne has failed to hype the platform despite being the pioneers of the concept in the country.
Considering the low-profile of One Wallet, the issue of cash shortages at One Wallet’s agents is a non-event to most people.
Relaunched after getting customer feedback was One Wallet which enables users to send money to other platforms with the major feedback being to access their money at agents.
The late comer in the local mobile money industry was Telecel which launched its Telecash service in January 2014.
The service was launched with the lowest tariffs Zimbabweans had ever seen. Telecash in July the same year introduced its Telecash Gold Card which was as good as any Zimswitch card.
With Telecel adding its platform in the MMP mix, the competition got more exciting as the MNOs continued to offer enticing features to win the public.
The same year Telecash was launched saw the entrance of another mobile money player Nettcash which allowed registered users on any mobile network to send money to another network. Zimbabwe’s Nettcash has introduced mobile money services in the country, allowing registered users on any mobile network to send money to any other.
Two years later, the platform was acquired by Brainworks Capital thereby rebranding to Getcash. We are yet to find out from the platform users if they have the money for cashing out.
As it stands the confidence in the local mobile money platforms is slowly getting drained.