Econet slashes EcoCash tariffs

HARARE - Econet Wireless has slashed the cost of sending money through EcoCash by as much as 34 percent, with transactions of less than a dollar now completely free.

The new tariff regime is expected to accelerate growth of a service that already processes more than two million transactions per week, valued at more than $35 million.

Having spent $50 million developing Ecocash, the mobile money transfer platform uses a system that is connected to Econet’s network and was custom designed for its special needs.

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchangelisted company has also simplified EcoCash’s cost structure, saving customers the inconvenience of having to calculate what it will cost before making a transaction.

Econet Services chief executive Darlington Mandivenga explained that EcoCash had responded to customer requests by removing the percentage system, replacing it with much simpler bands that make it easier for customers to know exactly how much each transaction will cost.

“If you send $10, for instance, it now costs you 19 cents, whereas sending $500 costs you only $4,49 down from $6,00. A transaction of a dollar or less is completely free,” Mandivenga explained. Cash-in and registration are also free.

EcoCash is fast becoming the most preferred method of payment in Zimbabwe.

A comparison between EcoCash and alternative money transfer systems shows that EcoCash is up to 50 percent cheaper than the cheapest available option and 233 percent cheaper than the most expensive option on the market.

Alternative options currently available include Textacash, ATMs, credit and debit cards issued by banks.

Econet even compared its service with those of Western Union and Moneygram, which are by far the more expensive.

For example, sending $150 locally would cost $5 with Western Union against only $2,45 with EcoCash.

To ensure cash reaches all corners of the country, EcoCash is now using over 3 000 agents, who are mostly local shops and stores who are paid commissions, which are raised from the fees charged for using EcoCash.

Most of the country’s banks are also now part of this wide EcoCash system, which also includes large supermarket chains and Zimpost, the largest agent in terms of number of branches.

“Access and convenience for the recipient is the key to this service. Why should your mother have to get on a bus to find the branch of a bank or building society in the nearest town? There is no match for our agent network of 3 000 outlets. That network is growing at a rate of 500 agents per month,” Econet chief executive Douglas Mboweni said. - Business Writer

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