Lendme, the mobile airtime credit credit startup we wrote about last month, launched officially this week. This means the platform is now available for users in Zimbabwe to borrow airtime. Before launch, users could only register accounts. Lendme works pretty much how it was featured in our first article except for one additional feature; they have introduced eVouchers.
The eVoucher system, which has not been fully rolled out because of some agreements they say they are finalising, is meant to make repayments of airtime easier for users. So far the startup has used the EcoCash mobile money system, but in a workaround fashion that requires a user to manually send the mobile cash using their phone and then confirm the payment on the Lendme site. Access to the money by Lendme themselves has also been limited as Econet has a cap on the amount of payments they can collect in a given period.
According to the founder Michael Charangwa, because Econet has not launched its EcoCash merchant platform yet and wouldn’t let them have pre-launch access to it, they had to find a way to manage repayments easier. Charangwa says they have also been unable to roll out a feature that enables users to borrow airtime via shortcode because getting shortcodes from MNOs has been a task.
Once the eVoucher system is in place, users of the Lendme platform will apparently be able to access it at more than 400 outlets in the country. How they are going to do that in the short time they promise to we have no idea, but let’s see. Charangwa himself says they have signed agreements with independent outlets but also with Spiritage Payments (Etranzact) to use their existing network. They are also in talks with another big airtime local distributor to sell the eVouchers through their network.
Lendme plans to use the eVoucher system for another web based micro lending project (money not airtime this time) they are working on. He says plans are to open the payment system to other interested web based businesses in future.