EcoCash targets 5 000 outlets

HARARE - Econet Wireless plans to increase its mobile money transfer EcoCash outlets from the current 1 350 to more than 5 000, enabling more convenience to the transacting public.

“The idea is to make sure within the shortest distance possible, one is able to cash in and out and also do payments. That way it will save time on queuing in banking halls as one will be doing this from the comfort of his/her own home or office,” said Econet Services chief operating officer Japhert Aritho.

He added that the convenience of EcoCash will save time, cut on costs something all Zimbabweans should enjoy.

Aritho said that the uptake of EcoCash was very high for the past year compared to M-pesa’s who only realised that there was a big opportunity in its third year of operation.

He added that the company will in the long-term consider the possibility of setting up credit and saving facility and also harness the unbanked public to ensure financial inclusion of everybody.

“There is a big number of people who are financially excluded because of the banking complexities and the inaccessibility of banking halls, so we need to bring everybody to our platform and at the end of the day, we will be growing and the economy will change,” said Aritho.

Aritho is a former Safaricom executive who ran M-pesa, Kenya’s equivalent of EcoCash and he brings a wealth of experience to the growth of the mobile money transfer platform.

M-pesa has revolutionised money transfer and the payment system in East Africa’s biggest economy and EcoCash has already surpassed the former in terms of first year like growth.

Econet Services chief executive Darlington Mandivenga said that the EcoCash platform was derived from the firm’s commitment whose motto is "Inspired to change the world."

“We always seek the best way forward and introduce products and services that others may still be thinking about. The desire is not just to be a pioneer, but introduce innovations that are relevant,” said Mandivenga.

He added that the product came at a time when Zimbabwe is facing challenges in transacting, transferring money to each other and paying bills.

“Prices were coming to a minimum of a dollar because of the shortage of change and it’s a real problem which requires a real solution and EcoCash does just that,” said Mandivenga adding that in Zimbabwe every cent counts.

He said because of shortage of change one can lose up to $20 in unbudgeted goods like sweets and matches in place of change.

Mandivenga added that EcoCash will eliminate consumptive patterns as the problem will be tackled head-on by a real solution.

He said those registered under EcoCash will now be able to pay Zesa, Multichoice, Edgars and the City of Harare bills as well as airtime top-up and buying goods through cellphones.

Commuters can also pay fares using EcoCash, eliminating the problem of small change and this will come as a huge relief to the majority of commuting public.

Despite the reluctance and scepticism towards the emerging technological revolution that is set to transform the face of Zimbabwean commerce, Mandivenga anticipates that EcoCash users will grow from the current 1,7 million to more than 2 million in the near future. - Kudzai Chawafambira

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