Ecocash targets diaspora

MARCH 20,2014.


Zimbabwe's largest wireless network operator Econet plans to commercially launch remittance services between locals and residents in South Africa (SA) under its mobile money transfer platform, EcoCash.

The group — which has obtained approval from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and the South African central bank — says it has already done a successful trial run and is “putting final touches.”

“Zimbabweans that are living in SA, who are large in numbers as you might all be aware, are really excited about this service and want it launched very quickly,” said Econet Services’ chief executive Darlington Mandivenga at the launch of EcoCash Payroll recently.

He added that introduction of more new products riding on the back of data services and EcoCash were in the pipeline.

“It’s (the introduction) going to be very early in the year,” said Mandivenga.
The volume of remittances coming into Zimbabwe could easily be trebled if the process of sending money is put on the EcoCash platform.

After nearly a year of development, Econet says the service will allow mobile-based remittances between SA and Zimbabwe. Using Econet’s Call Home sim cards, Zimbabweans living in SA will, when the platform is launched, be able to load money in their cell phones just like their counterparts back home and send it across the border instantly to an Econet number.

The recipient will then cash out the money at any EcoCash agent. Mandivenga projected that EcoCash remittances will be the biggest source of foreign currency in the economy by the end of the year.

“Our research suggests that by making it quicker and easier to send small amounts, of as little as R5, at any time, we will see a massive inflow of money, just like we see on EcoCash here at home,” he said.

Under the innovative service, Econet also targets remittances from Botswana and Zambia before year end while it plans to expand to other countries such as the UK and US, where there is a significant population of Zimbabweans.

Statistics show that currently Zimbabwe accounts for the bulk of the cross-border remittances market in Africa and more than R6, 7 billion — 60 percent of total Sadc remittances — is estimated to be sent to Zimbabwe from South Africa each year.

Recently, Econet launched EcoCash Payroll and EcoCashSave, an interest bearing mobile savings account.