Econet partners European firm

HARARE - Econet Wireless (Econet) — Zimbabwe’s largest mobile network operator — has partnered Europe-based money transfer firm WorldRemit to launch a cash remittance service expected to earn about $600 million annually.

Darlington Mandivenga, Econet Services chief executive, said the service, EcoCash Diaspora, will function in the 34 countries that WorldRemit is currently operating.

“This product will be servicing anyone who… is registered on EcoCash,” he said.

Last year, Econet ventured into the mobile money transfer business by launching EcoCash, which allows remittances between locals and residents in South Africa.

The group’s subsidiary, Steward Bank, has also unveiled cash remittance services targeted at the Diaspora.

People based in the Diaspora can send money from their bank accounts to EcoCash subscribers in Zimbabwe.

Cuthbert Tembedza, EcoCash’s chief executive said “once the money is sent, both receiver and sender will get a text confirmation of the transfer which is instant”.

“The receiver will perform normal cash out procedure at any Ecocash agent in the country. The entire transaction will charge less than $5 and then implement EcoCash tariffs,” he said.

Tembedza said the services cannot be used to send money out of the country at the moment due to restrictions from the central bank, and are limited to Econet subscribers only.

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

“The volume of remittances coming into Zimbabwe could easily be trebled if the process of sending money is put on the EcoCash platform,” said Tembedza.

Locally, MoneyGram, Mukuru and Western Union have been handling inter-country remittances.

On a global scale, WorldRemit’s market share is about 1,5 percent, according to Rob Ayers, its North America director.

“Our market share is very minute because the money remittance business is a very fragmented market. Players like Western Union have a market share of about 12 percent and MoneyGram is about three percent, those are the two largest,” Ayers said.

Last year, Zimbabweans living abroad remitted over $1,6 billion according to Finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa.

An estimated three million Zimbabweans live abroad, excluding those living illegally.

In 2013, $540 billion was recorded in remittance inflows globally, and Africa accounted for $64 billion.

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. — Business Live

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