The 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.
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.