Econet announced yesterday via an SMS to subscribers that residence of Harare can now pay their council bills (rates and water) using EcoCash as more practical use of the mobile money service are rolled out. Effectively, this means Harare residents who use EcoCash no longer need to make a trip to the nearest council office just to pay their bills; it can all be done on a basic mobile phone.
Paying a council bill via EcoCash is not new itself as Bulawayo residents have been using EcoCash for at least a couple of months. As well, paying a city council bill electronically is not new; a couple of banks locally already provide this via their internet banking services. Like most things EcoCash though, the big difference is scale and therefore potential impact on ordinary Zimbabweans. EcoCash has more than 2 million subscribers.
As more possible EcoCash uses for subscribers are rolled out, the EcoCash ecosystem is feeding itself. If people can use EcoCash for more things than before, the collective convenience becomes ever more compelling and this drives more sign ups. Existing subscribers are also likely to start keeping money in their virtual wallets where before, money would be cashed into a wallet in transit to a recipient wallet, where it would be cashed out on arrival.
If there’s a water bill to pay at the end of the month, a DSTV subscription, discounted airtime to buy, groceries to buy, then it would just make sense to get paid right into the wallet and spend from there. It’s surely more secure than the mattress account. And as more banks threaten to sink, pulling their industry back several years to an unhelpful image of greedy corporate money holes insensitive to the plight of ordinary people, EcoCash as a default money storage account is an ever real option to consider.