It’s no longer called EcoLife, but Econet are back in the insurance game. This time it’s called EcoSure, and its hardly the same thing as the previous offering. The service has a different value proposition and merits in other aspects such as ease of use and a different payout.
This is the MNO’s renewed attempt at micro-insurance, an emerging extension of the risk management industry that has the potential of encouraging lower income groups (ie the majority) to take some form of cover.
The inclusion of the marginalised is always music to Econet’s ears. They did it with financial service inclusion courtesy of EcoCash and they are now handling a large percentage of the country’s GDP. With most of Zimbabwe not appreciative of the value of insurance there are acres of investment green fields there.
But beyond that what really is the fascination with insurance anyway? Why not data services? Why push another product into a market that doesn’t seem to like the sound of Econet and Insurance in the same breath?
For starters consumers have short memories. The betrayals from yesteryear are easily forgotten if you make any paying subscriber an offer that’s too hard to ignore.
It’s however not an easy task. No matter how good the value added service is, things can go horribly wrong if the MNO doesn’t get the right traction from the start. For insurance to work they will need the traction in the form of many sign ups. A lot of work lies ahead for them.
The team is off to a good start though. With the establishment of their own insurance company Econet Life (Remember how they bought their own bank), and the development of their own sturdy platform from the ground up (lesson learnt from Trustco), they are making a strong investment into a value added service that they will be able to expand in several ways.
For now though Econet seems to want to test the water first by rolling out this first insurance service that is easy to use, dirt cheap and has a huge return for the customer no matter the package selected. There’s a lesson in all of this for any other service provider.
All of this should help cultivate renewed trust in mobile based insurance and the right perceptions in such investments. It’s hardly something that Econet would leave up to Telecare to take care for them.
More products are likely to be rolled out though. With Econet set to carry forward into 2015 the momentum it picked up this year regarding new products and services, further extension into insurance is inevitable. Rumors are already flying around about insurance packages that extend beyond life assurance.
Car insurance has been hinted at by people close to the MNO, something that seems to dovetail neatly with the Econet Connected Car product. If they can trace your car they might as well be the one stop shop that also insures the vehicle.
There is also the option for insurance services payable from outside the country. This will be a mash up with EcoCash Diaspora, which is another area Econet has started closing in on.
It just shows the opportunities that Econet is now exploiting thanks to the huge investments made into their transactional platforms. Let’s hope guys like NetOne are watching and learning.
The long and short of it is that Econet has just set up another strong fort in a new industry. They have done their homework and are set to excel in class this time.