Yesterday, Econet announced its interim unaudited results for the 6 months ending 31 August 2012. The one product mentioned again and again and one the Econet leadership confirmed was their most exciting product, even comparing it to the introduction of prepaid, was EcoCash.
The highlight stats of the product are that US $70 million worth of transactions are now conducted on the platform monthly, a total $300 million has been transacted since launch, and the service now has an agent network of more than 1,600. Registered users are the same figure announced early this month, 1.7 million.
In terms of comparison with other African countries, according to Econet, EcoCash is the second most successful mobile money transfer implementation in Africa, after Kenya. Other suggestions (including by Econet Zimbabwe CEO Douglas Mboweni in a press release below) are that when we look at the populations of the two countries, the rate of uptake of EcoCash has been faster than Safaricom; about 14% penetration in the first year for EcoCash, against M-PESA’s 6%. (Zim population used is 12.7, and 41.6 for Kenya)
The numbers just tell half the story however; Econet literally went to Kenya, lifted up the M-PESA concept as is and came to implement it in Zimbabwe. They didn’t have to go through the same learning experiences that Safaricom, who broke the new mobile money ground, had to go through. And it wasn’t just Kenya that had implemented mobile money transfer; there were a number of case studies to learn from on the continent as well. EcoCash growing slower therefore (or even at the same rate) that M-PESA grew would have been a worrying sign for Econet.
Here’s the full press release:
ECOCASH PUMPING NEARLY $100 MILLION PER MONTH INTO ZIMBABWE’S RURAL AREAS
Money transfers made by urban dwellers to rural areas have reached a staggering $70 million per month and are projected to reach over $100 million next month.
This was revealed by Econet Wireless Zimbabwe CEO Douglas Mboweni when briefing analysts on the company’s half year results to the end of August.
The Econet Wireless boss said people in rural areas rely heavily on getting money from relatives using EcoCash, Econet’s money transfer service.
He said Econet was also pumping liquidity to its agents in rural areas to ensure that they can give cash to those people who need it.
Econet, he said, had acquired a controlling stake in TN Bank and was now using the bank solely to support the activities of EcoCash.
Mr Mboweni said EcoCash was now the most successful money transfer service in Africa after M-PESA in Kenya, which already has 14 million users.
EcoCash has just under two million users, but Zimbabwe has a third of the Kenyan population. In South Africa, where Vodacom launched a similar service at the same time as Econet, only 500,000 people have registered to use it, according to media reports.
Meanwhile, Mr Mboweni has said EcoCash is now becoming more of a wallet as people are finding it easier to pay for goods directly with EcoCash.
Major retailers across the country are busy setting up their systems to ensure people can pay through EcoCash, he said, predicting that business that do not accept EcoCash will lose business opportunities.
He said Econet guarantees any business that takes EcoCash that they can swap it for real cash at TN Bank.
With the Christmas holidays coming up, businesses are gearing up for heavy trade using EcoCash, he said.
Kombis across the country have already begun accepting EcoCash and now even newspapers are planning to accept payment by EcoCash following discussions with Econet.