We’ve received reliable information that TN Holdings, one of the fastest growing of companies locally, is preparing to introduce an e-commerce platform to enable Zimbabweans to purchase its products over the internet. TN Holdings has interests in financial services, health, furniture and more recently, supermarkets and fast food outlets.
We contacted several people at the company to get more information about the development but no one is yet to confirm (or deny) the company is working on such a project.
TN will be one of the first companies in Zimbabwe to launch an e-commerce platform. It also has a huge opportunity to introduce an e-commerce service none other company has been able to locally, thanks to its operations in the banking sector and mobile money services with Econet.
So far the one e-commerce website that has been somewhat visible in Zimbabwe is Zimazon, which launched last year. We have not been able to get any updates from Zimazon concerning just how busy their platform is but a couple of contacts around have told us they successfully used the platform to purchase electronic gadgets.
A problem that has hindered e-commerce locally has been that of not being able to provide a internet payments solution that internet users have convenient access to. In a country where credit and debit cards are not a common means of transacting (on or off-line) and PayPal doesn’t work, providing these payment option on a website will not get any meaningful transactions done. Zimazon itself so far allows you to ‘buy’ an item online and pay for it using hard cash when it’s delivered. It’s e-commerce, working backwards.
Payments is where TN could totally change the game. From what we hear so far the company will go with the Zimazon cash model at launch, but chances are high they are preparing to use EcoCash as one of the payment methods. EcoCash is the one ‘debit card’ that more than 70% of the Zimbabwean population already have access to.
Zimazon itself was at one point rumoured to be working with ZimSwitch to enable online payments through the payments gateway ZimSwitch promised the market last year. Zimazon, we hear, was meant to be the ZimSwitch pilot for the payments system.