Earlier in the day we learnt and posted that Econet would launching a mobile phone to POS payment solution tonight. We’re just from the event, and most of the information we had is what was announced tonight. The company is introducing its own POS terminals to accept payments from EcoCash mobile wallets. The products is called EcoCash Debit Card.
The event today was attended by Zim Deputy Prime Minister, Aurthur Mtambara and the acting Reserve Bank governor, who was guest of honor. Delivering the keynote speech, the acting RBZ governor said as regulators they encouraging EcoCash “to continue to work towards inter-operability in the economy.” The acting governor also said they were happy the POS infrastructure to be deployed by Econet will be open to other payment providers. She also said she was thankful to Econet for “contributing immensely to building of a modern payment system in the country”
The product demo was done by EcoCash CEO, Cuthbert Tembedza as well as Econet Services CEO, Darlington Mandivenga.
Here are some quick facts we gathered at the launch:
- The POS terminal basically replaces a merchant mobile phone and sits at the till point like other ordinary bank powered POS terminals. Unlike a mobile phone though, the POS terminal prints a receipt when payment is made. Communication between phone and terminal is therefore enabled through USSD.
- Econet has invested into 10,000 POS terminals in total so far. They didn’t say more however on exactly how many of these have been deployed only referring to thousands nationwide.
- The EcoCash POS terminals will also accept VISA and MasterCard cards. Econet Services CEO, Darlington Mandivenga said that banks that the EcoCash terminals will also accepts cards issued by local banks that are partnering with EcoCash. Those that have integrated with EcoCash (for EcoCash mobile banking) will will have first mover advantage he said.
- The terminals also have the Near Field Communication (NFC) and though not enabled now, will be available to use in the future as the technology’s availbility on mobile phones increases. The POS terminals are supplied to Econet by TPSI a London based subsidiary of Econet.
- Mandivenga also said at the launch that their product (mobile phone to POS device via USSD) was the first such implementation in the world and that they had beat the known leader in Africa’s mobile money industry, M-PESA. “They are still thinking about it, we’ve launched” said Mandivenga in reference to M-PESA.
- The development means that over 2 million Zimbabweans (EcoCash subscribers that is) now have access to debit card kind of services.