Recently Ecocash introduced the EcoCash MasterCard Debit Card that undoubtedly was a game changer, allowing millions of ‘unbanked’ people the opportunity to have the convenience of making payments anywhere and everywhere. Yes, the card works across borders, anywhere in the world they say and then there was the ‘possibility’ of making online payments.
I went ahead and got the card as I was interested to know whether the card can be used online to make payments. It wasn’t too difficult. $2 and my I.D. got me sorted. There is some kind of linking of card to the EcoCash mobile wallet that needs to take place, and you good to go. Well, almost, you’ll need money in the account of course.
As we are always looking for the tech opportunity for startups here at Techzim, I was eager to know what convenience the EcoCash MasterCard debit card brought to would-be entrepreneurs who often times need to make purchases online.
Does the Ecocash MasterCard debit card work online?
Well, I tested it out here at the office, tried to make a few online purchases and here are my findings:
1. You CAN NOT make online purchases with your ‘physical’ Ecocash MasterCard. Yes, I frantically tried and tried but was continually met with “we are unable to review this card. Please try again or enter another one“. A call to the Steward Bank toll free call centre (all Ecocash MasterCard’s are issued by the Econet-owned bank Steward) revealed that the ‘physical’ Ecocash MasterCard debit card can not be used for such transactions.
2. The customer services representative advised me that one has to ‘buy’ a Virtual Card Number for $0.50, a MasterCard debit card number, that is valid for 14 days, and can only be used once. Essentially making the cost of your transaction a bit higher. (see transaction table below. Click for higher res)
3. Though you can link you VCN to PayPal (yes, in case you never read, PayPal is available in Zimbabwe), you are limited to doing transactions of $150 and less until you can ‘verify’ your card. If you need to make a payment to someone for more than $150, I guess you just have to advise them that their payment is coming in batches. This should not be much of a problem if you want to send money to a friend or relative though.
4. The VCN currently CAN NOT be linked to Google Play, so essentially you can’t buy Android app with it. Unfortunately, we haven’t tested with IOS but we’ll update once we’ve done so. If there’s anyone who has tried, please comment below.
So in a nutshell, the physical Ecocash MasterCard debit card can not make online payments at the moment. However, the VCN fills the gap on that one.