EcoCash transactions reach $300m

HARARE - The country’s largest mobile money transfer by registered users, EcoCash, has transacted over $300 million since its inception last year, the businessdaily said.

“EcoCash moves millions of dollars every day from urban to rural areas helping to revitalise rural businesses and increase economic activity throughout the country,” said Econet Wireless group chief executive Douglas Mboweni.

“EcoCash is a life line particularly for rural people who not only use it to get money from relatives in urban areas, but also use it as an alternative to cash in an economy where the currency of exchange is imported at a significant cost.”

The Econet boss said EcoCash is now handling over $70 million monthly. Mboweni said Ecocash’s registered subscribers grew by 70 percent to 1,7 million from a base of one million in February, making it the second fastest growing mobile money transfer in the region after Mpesa in Kenya.

In South Africa, where Vodacom launched a similar service at the same time as Econet, only 500 000 people have registered to use it, according to media reports.

Mboweni said EcoCash is now becoming more of a wallet as people are finding it easier to pay for goods directly with EcoCash.

Major retailers across the country are busy setting up their systems to ensure people can pay through EcoCash, he said, predicting that business that do not accept EcoCash will lose business opportunities.

“Going forward, the current upgrade on the EcoCash platform will see EcoCash customers enjoying more ancillary services such as bill payments, salary disbursements and grocery payments,” he said.

Econet recently engaged former Safaricom executive Japheth Aritho as chief operating officer of Econet Services to reinforce EcoCash in Zimbabwe. Safaricom introduced Mpesa in Kenya.

Econet said it had managed to overcome capacity constraints which had resulted in the shortage of its lines on the market.

Econet Services chief executive Darlington Mandivenga recently said EcoCash was designed as an effective solution to real problems of convenience, shortage of change, the speed and security people faced when making payments.

“The desire is not just to introduce or pioneer products in the market, but to introduce innovations that are relevant,” he said.

EcoCash is celebrating its first anniversary as a mobile money transfer and has launched a competition where lucky subscribers will win varying amounts of cash with a grand prize of $100 000 to be won in January. - Business Writer

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