Pay Kombi Fares with EcoCash: Adoption

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kombiThe introduction of EcoCash payments in kombis was met by large skepticism in the market. Some of us doubted its practicality and questioned how the conductor was going to verify all the text messages and identify who made the payments. Surely the conductor doesn’t know everybody’s name and number. So does he have to check everybody’s ID. The cumbersome process of making a payment through EcoCash is also another point to consider. Dialing *151*200# and navigating through various menus before you get to hit the ‘Done’ button is really more strenuous than getting a dollar bill from your wallet and handing it to the conductor. Well that’s what I thought before a few chats with a number conductors proved me wrong.

Paying Kombi fares with EcoCash is not impractical, as we found out, EcoCash really brings the convenience of plastic money into the kombi. Everyone who uses kombis for transport has come across the issue of change, especially if the kombi fare is 50c. People have often been made to suffer delay while the conductor embarks on the infamous quest to “split the dollar.” And, removing a $20 bill from the wallet and attempting to pay the kombi fare with it is really just a way to aggravate the conductor, and sometimes he snaps. EcoCash cuts through all that because sending money is matter of typing 0.50 on the phone. Done. However, the ratio of kombis that have adopted this is quite small. And that is very discouraging.

After walking around and chatting with some kombi drivers and conductors we observed: the whole idea of paying kombis with EcoCash is not having enough penetration because, simply, people are not used to it. However, one route that probably has the highest number of kombis which adopted EcoCash is the City – UZ route with at least 20 kombis registered. This is probably because Econet assisted its market penetration by giving students EcoCash money for kombi fares last year. However in total, the City – UZ route has roughly 130 operational kombis, so the proportion of EcoCash registered kombis is still quite small. Other routes don’t even have a single kombi registered an example is the City – Glen View route with over 50 kombis operational but none that is EcoCash registered.

One thing we have noted is that conductors like handling cash, because cash feels more like money than an EcoCash transfer does. Conductors are thus reluctant to adopt EcoCash and some don’t even know the whole registration process. And then there are some kombis who even have the EcoCash stickers but they don’t accept EcoCash payments. They are just enjoying the $80 per month that Econet pays for advertising.

As mentioned Econet has made some previous attempts to promote the adoption of EcoCash in kombis, and some that we posted about before. But the real driver for the adoption of EcoCash in kombis is the passenger. Kombis are not EcoCash registered because the passenger is not pushing for it. But the passenger is the one who is made to wait while the conductor goes out looking for change. So if your boss stressed you as to your showing up late at work and you know you had to wait for that change, next time suggest to the kombi driver to pay with EcoCash.

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We tried to contact Econet’s PR to get more information about the adoption of EcoCash in Kombic. We failed for now, however there will be an update of the stats when we do manage to get hold of them.

8 Comments

  1. :) says:

    If NFC was common or if Econet could issue cards that people could swipe, I’m sure more people would pick it up. I’d hazard to guess that the reason most people haven’t picked up on it is probably because they don’t feel it’s anymore convenient than just taking out their wallet and pulling out their $1.

    1. tinm@n says:

      NFC is just as bad. It is struggling to gain traction in the developed world. Very few adaptors. When its fun and games people readily join but when money is involved they take longer to adopt

    2. ngth says:

      The problem with NFC or Swipe is you would need some kind of hardware in the kombi, eg a swipe pos terminal can cost upwards of $400.00 a unit. It is not practical from a cost perspective. Ecocash only requires a cellphone which almost all communters and operators already have.

      1. PaChokwadi says:

        Not true.

  2. ZimDigital says:

    The EcoCash guys need to provide a more solid Value Proposition to the customer, than “Fixing the Change Problem”. “Change” is no longer that much of an issue nowadays compared to when we first adopted the US dollar, and it can only continue to improve. Maybe once in a while, one might have had to wait for the kombi driver to look for change, but its really not as bad as the Ecocash Guys believe. The sooner they realise that, the quicker they should offer a more convenient way for people to pay their fares. Hint: Plastic Card!

  3. kevie says:

    if kombiz are to fully adopt it then that would mean no conductors to collect money becoz at the end of the day the driver just has to confirm balance something like that, technology would have fast replaced conductors, no need to give anyone money to count. at the end of the day providing a card swipe is the best coz u swipe while boarding, coz if you to use your phone u might experience network issues while typing to make the transactions etc i would rather go for swipe and go.

  4. ddd says:

    econet shoud also look into solving the problem where by it takes uop to 5 min for their service to work or at times it just goes dead for hours on end. tht destroys any reason for me to use yo ecocash for kombi service unless you subsidise me for half the fare again.

  5. Taku says:

    I think the challenge for kombis stems for adopting ecocash is a logistical one. How often do combi drivers need to pay for $10 petrol from the money they just collected? It does happen quite a bit, so the fuel stations also need to have a quick petrol facility in the event of 100% uptake of the technology. Then of course, they need to pay the friendly police officer his daily toll fees (and the ZINARA ones from time to time). And until police officers let you pay their “quick dues” to their ecocash account, wowser; would that not be interesting?

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