NetOne is in the business of mobile money. Yes, NetOne OneWallet is out there. It’s easy to forget that, what with the overwhelming presence its competitors have in the market and the silence NetOne maintains in the same space. But to be fair, besides ZESA prepaid token purchases, OneWallet hasn’t done much to warm its way into people’s hearts.
OneWallet only accounts for a disappointing 1 % of the market share in mobile wallet against a 27% subscriber market share subscriber base. Despite having this fairly large subscriber base, this pathetic 1% indicates a failing product.
In light of Telecel’s recent domestic problems, we would expect a slight increase in both Econet and NetOne numbers as they go after sloppy seconds. After a difficult 2014 for NetOne resulting in a statutory induced loss due to tax on unrealised revenue, the news of a $200 million dollar expansion project came as a relief.
Naturally when an investment like that comes, top management must change to root out the older philosophy. We would hope all these changes in staffing and infrastructure translates into an increase in NetOne and OneWallet subscribers. If indeed it does not shut it down, here are some redresses we think may help it.
Deploy the 128k en masse
One of the requirements for OneWallet is that subscribers migrate from their old SIM cards to a 128k version. This in itself is a hindrance. As shown by the figures above, only a limited percentage of NetOne subscribers are on OneWallet. The company should risk it and make it mandatory for all users to migrate to the new SIM. By doing that, it can introduce OneWallet to more subscribers by default as the new SIM comes provisioned for a mobile wallet. It’s not the best induction principle but its a start.
Increase their agents
OneWallet has a small agency network of only 1,612 for a mobile wallet in contrast to an estimated 23,379 agents for all networks combined. The opportunity to operate with every potential mobile money agent popped up when POTRAZ disallowed agency exclusivity which put all EcoCash and TeleCash agents at its disposal.
Potentially, OneWallet can be offered by all of these agents. In addition, they might consider enhancing its agency experience by offering not only a mobile phone to assist agents, but adding an agent mobile application that makes it simpler to process transactions on the go. How about an application that works independent of the operator but carries the OneWallet brand.
NetOne enjoys support from the government especially regarding statutory payments that other operators are required to satisfy upfront. With such an advantage, it shouldn’t be at par with the competition as far as pricing goes. An example is how it’s now a serious alternative for WhatsApp and EcoCash bundles as its pricing has remained stagnant in the face of Econet’s recent increase.
A rationalised approach that incorporates this subsidy should be implemented and should see a significant fall in transaction fees. It would be good, for example, if it introduced off-net money transfers where the sender doesn’t have to carry both the sender and receiver fees.
Improved marketing campaigns
Econet invests significantly in brand visibility. While OneWallet may not necessarily have to match EcoCash, it will definitely not hurt to engage in more elaborate campaigns. NetOne’s flagship campaign of Dollar a Day is growing rather old. While the promo seems very generous for on-net calls, it does very little to lure new clients from rival operators permanently; that is, even from EcoCash and TeleCash. The ZESA adverts have become monotonous as I am sure all who need to know, leave for the laggards, are now very much informed. A free (or heavily subsidised) money transfer promo may be useful once in a while.
This is not optional. If OneWallet is to continue to be useful it must be enhanced to provide value added services that are not available on EcoCash or TeleCash. OneWallet will not always be shielded and preferred by the government as it did in the ZESA retailing. It needs to come up with innovative products and services that answer today’s solutions for the population.
Econet’s model is more closed and it draws solutions from its own network of developers and solution providers. Telecel seems to be exploring the startup scene, going to the extent of sponsoring pitches in conjunction with Emerging Ideas.
NetOne needs to find its own model to exist in the environment of sharing and exchanging ideas with techpreneurs. So many solutions are yet to be explored including insurance, school fees payments and pocket money solutions, the list is endless. It may even choose to go where EcoCash has failed such as in commuter payments.
OneWallet needs to offer an international remittances solution. EcoCash has made a lot of noise with its WorldRemit relationship in addition to MasterCard for receiving and sending money abroad. TeleCash in turn has partnered with Mukuru. NetOne does not necessarily need to be the best provider, but it cannot afford to be silent in a space where the competition exists.
One other thing I have personally expected a pro-government network to develop in is the ability to pay farmers directly into their wallets after they have sold their produce, such as the tobacco season that is coming to a close. Wouldn’t it be good for ZIMASSET if the farming money circulated in the networks that the government has control over?