Zimbabwe Mobile Money Services Bigger Than M-Pesa
By Dion Henrick
Cape Town — Zimbabwe's mobile money platforms are forecasted to surpass the impact of the globally-renowned M-PESA launched in East Africa a decade ago. The lofty projections by Supa Mandiwanzira, the Southern African country's Minister for Information, Communication and Technology and Courier Services, follow the significant growth of EcoCash by Econet Wireless since 2011 and the recent launch of the OneMoney service by NetOne.
Speaking in Cape Town, South Africa at the just-concluded AfricaCom, Mandiwanzira described EcoCash as "big if not better than M-PESA." He pointed out that in 2016 mobile money payments in Zimbabwe accounted for 81,2 percent of all electronic payment transactions maintaining the dominance mobile money services in transaction volumes. During the year 298,59 million mobile money transactions were handled, up from the 228,2 million transactions the previous year.
Most transactions were done via EcoCash. Kenyans made a total of 1,52 billion mobile money transactions last year,a decade into the launch of M-PESA, the service launched in 2007 by Vodafone for Safaricom and Vodacom, the largest mobile network operators in Kenya and Tanzania
The growth of mobile money in Zimbabwe is in part attributed to cash shortages as the country battles economic problems. Meanwhile, Mandiwanzira hailed the introduction of OneMoney last week, saying it would enhance competition in the mobile money space. It will compete with EcoCash and TeleCash, by the third mobile operator, Telecel. "We hope to see more convenient and competitive transactions with more players coming into the sector," the minister said. Overall, Mandiwanzira described the telecommunications sector in Zimbabwe as vibrant but political problems, as portrayed in the media, were overshadowing strides made.