Zimbabwe and regional technology news and updates


Now 270,000 active EcoCash users, and more than 1.5m registered

EcoCashWe just picked up and thought we would share some insightful EcoCash stats in a report posted yesterday by the GSMA on their blog Mobile Money for the Unbanked. The GSMA got the stats from the head of EcoCash, Francis Matseketsa. We’ll just give a summary here of what we found interesting. You can read the whole article on this link (Update: article is no longer available on the original link).

The Stats

  • EcoCash now has over 1.5 million registered users. This alone is not much of a surprise and in fact we expected the figure to be around 1.6 million if the growth trend of about 200,000 per month has been consistent. Econet is still offering the free $1 airtime for EcoCash registrations so we don’t see reason for it slowing down as there are still millions (about 4.9m) of Econet mobile phone subscribers that are not on EcoCash yet.
  • EcoCash has 270,000 active mobile money subscribers, about 18% of the total EcoCash registered users, and 4.2% of the total Econet mobile phone subcribers. According to the GSMA, this percentage out of Econet’s total GSM subscribers compares favourably to other leading mobile money services globally.
  • EcoCash has some 1,400 agents across the country. Again, compared to other mobile money services, it’s a healthy ratio (1:193) of active customers per agent

Other interesting facts about the product implementation

  • The branding on public minibuses (maKombi) has contributed immensly to the growth of subscriptions.
  • EcoCash believes that its primary economic driver will be cost savings on airtime distribution. The 5% discount on airtime purchased via EcoCash has proved proved very popular with customers.
  • Transaction revenue alone has not yet pushed the service to breakeven and it’s expected that, as the volume of business increases with transaction usage, customer services fees will be lowered further.

A report “Benchmarking with the best” is used to compare EcoCash to mobile money services by other mobile network operators globally like Safaricom (MPESA), MTN (MobileMoney), Tigo (Tigo Cash) and Airtel (Airtel Money). You can access that report on this link (Update: report is no longer available on the original link). There are also other interesting articles on mobile money in Africa (and globally) on the MMU blog so make sure you go other there and browse around.

Quick NetOne, Econet, And Telecel Airtime Recharge

3 thoughts on “Now 270,000 active EcoCash users, and more than 1.5m registered

  1. Now Econet is slowly booting the airtime street vendor out of the value chain at least to the benefit of the mobile user and Econet. If Econet was selling airtime to distributors at a discount of say 12% then now they discount it for 5% to people it means they are making 7%. You can do the numbers!! Very soon no one will go to OK or Bon Marche to buy airtime unless to buy Telecel, Africom or Netone.

    Thats why they bought TN Bank (sorry Nigel you could have been the one chowing) but my worry is the monopoly being created by Econet in Zimbabwe. Now with my USD in my TN Bank account I can buy my airtime and send money to my mum and Econet makes cash buy airtime they make cash etc etc. The growth of Ecocash is going to spread to retail, transport, utility payments etc they Econet will wipe out all the cash in the market. Econet empire will be too big to fail very soon and will exactly be larger than PTC the guys who did not want to be deregulated 17 years ago (I think it might be nearly larger than the government now). Will history not repeat itself one day. I hope jobs will be created through all this. How I so love capitalism once you have the cash you can rule! Let make cash guys!

  2. cant they develop an online payment gateway with this product, it would be great for people who are looking to make online businesses / stores and the like

    1. I am not from Econet but i have done some research over some months that i can help you with some info.

      You see, the biggest problem in Zimbabwe is one where some of these big
      companies with resources only trust the big guys, or someone who can do
      something on a massive scale. It is not difficult to use APIs to offer
      online transactions, but the main problem all boils down to trust and

      I would say do not expect a Paypal clone where even your dog can use the
      APIs. With these guys, e.g. Econet, their main business is telecomms
      and they dont want anything upsetting their main business. If you are
      going to connect to them, then you really need to show you know what you
      are doing, Hence they love the big guys with resources.

      I will give you the example of eTranzact. eTranzact can do exactly what
      you are talking about, just like Paypal, and it is available to you.
      Both use emails to pay the other etc. but you cant compare it to paypal.
      With Paypal you can just connect, but with eTranzact, for it to work,
      they want to see your website live on the net and you have to submit
      company information so dont expect to be able to sell as you can as an
      individual like with paypal. The same thing will naturally happen with
      Ecocash. They wont let thye APIs loose and open for anyone. That is how risk is managed by these companies.

      Ever heard of the 419? It’s the code for Nigerian online scams.

      Now, imagine Econet lets the APIs loose Paypal style. There is a huge
      problem that can happen when those APIs start being abused by scammers.
      (Remember what happened with the RTGS system in the days of burning
      money? RTGS was not built so you could burn money. )

      You can end up having fake websites being set-up to scam people of their monies.

      On top of that Paypal is specially focused on payments whereas Econet is
      primarily a mobile operator. This difference means Econet does not have
      the time to spend on support services like complaints,chargebacks etc.
      as Paypal does.

      The support infrastructure for a payments system that deals with B2B,
      B2C and even C2C has to be massive, and i would say almost the same size
      as Econet itself, or just like a bank. And that is why only a few big
      companies and vetted few will get APIs and the kombi sliding door
      operators will simply have a cellphone to accept Ecocash and not APIs.

      So in the end you can only get them on a case by case basis and based on merits.

      Anyway, we wait to see how TN will accept Ecocash payments on its website.

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