Zimbabwean companies have come up with all kinds of solutions to the change problems that followed the economy’s dollarisation earlier this year. The problem itself is that a lot items are priced with a cents component or just cost less than a US dollar. This is a nightmare because there are just not enough coins in circulation in the country. Some grocery shops issue customers with credit notes, some just ask you to choose an additional item from the shelves to round off the price to a solid dollar. On very rare lucky days you’ll get your change in South African Rands. Indeed some have used the “sorry, no change” excuse to get customers to buy more stuff.
Starting last week, Econet’s YourFone public phone shops are now using Econet tokens. Each token is worth 20 US cents; a minute of talk time. The tokens look like the old Zimbabwe 1 cent coins last used about a decade ago. Looking back to last year’s hyperinflationary time, Zimbabweans would definitely have found good use for these; an easily “bankable” currency in those mad days.
This past week Econet has also introduced the “call me back” service for those times when you’re out of airtime and desperately need someone to call you back. A maximum of 3 call-me-backs per day are allowed and for some reason the service is open to subscribers on the Libertie platform only. Other mobile operators in Africa like Kenyan Safaricom also have a similar service allowing subscribers to send a free text message asking someone to call.
Econet also allows subscribers to transfer airtime to other Econet subscribers via a text message. It’s all about making more people make more calls more frequently