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EcoCash, PMT, inaccuracies, distortions and ethics

We encountered a situation that surprised us yesterday. After posting a story on Econet’s move to the Comviva platform for the core technology powering EcoCash, one of the key sources of information for the story posted the following comment:

This report is not accurate, and not approved by myself. I referred you to Econet staff for the full detail and that is why I would not provide you detail. Your comments are also distorted – I noted I was confused as to why Econet would tell the market they migrated because PMT had capacity issues. Your reporting is not factual. M Schorn, CEO.

This was followed by a tweet that basically said the same thing. The tweet was deleted shortly afterwards. My response:

huh?? approval?

We then went into a back and forth exchange of emails with the PMT CEO as both sides made efforts to make the other side understand how they viewed this. Suffice it to say, we didn’t agree.

As part of explaining how we gather information and make it into an article for publication, we have decided to post this article so you, the reader, can know the process and how this situation came to be.

Basically, if we contact an official and ask for information pertaining to the products or services their company provides, we consider the information provided in the response to be on record and available to be used in our stories, unless the official mentions that they would like to have the conversation off the record. We highly respect such requests and do not compromise on this. If we ever betrayed this, our sources and officials would simply stop supplying us information.

Sometimes an official inadvertently gives more information than they intend to have in the public domain. In such cases we use our judgment and usually remind the official that they are speaking on record so they know what will be published. We sometimes also have to filter out what we suspect the official may have disclosed unintentionally.

But sometimes, this process just goes all wrong. An official we contact for information assumes that the responses they give are off the record without them saying so.

This is what we see with the Econet/PMT/Comviva story. We contacted both PMT and Econet for more information about the new features that had been introduced with the ‘upgraded’ EcoCash. Econet did not respond. They usually don’t when they have nothing to say or are just not ready to speak.

The PMT CEO responded. And in his response “replied to all” copying the Econet official we had copied in our original email. He didn’t say that he was responding to us off the record and because he had also copied the Econet official we took it he was not. We exchanged a few more emails with him and when we detected he was mentioning some things that he would probably not want published, we asked if he would like to provide a separate official comment or if he was ok with us just using the contents of the email thread. He did not respond to this message.

We sent another email about an hour later to check with him again and this too wasn’t responded to. Another hour later we took a decision not to include the additional information he had provided in the subsequent emails and just use the first email, which had been copied an Econet official. This appeared on record enough for us.

A few hours later, we were met with the comment above accusing us of inaccuracies and distorted information as well as a tweet accusing us of unethical reporting.

5 thoughts on “EcoCash, PMT, inaccuracies, distortions and ethics

  1. I think we can spend all time on this Techzim/PMT/Econet issue. I think what is important and what many people like me are interested to know is that Ecocash has moved to Comviva, period.

    Why Econet moved to Comviva, or what the reasons for Econet’s move from PMT “could” be does not matter now and is all in the past. Econet has moved on, and many people are looking forward. It does not matter whether the CEO of PMT approves or disapproves of the post.

    1. I think we need more on the move than just the movement. Why the moved, what benefits are we going to enjoy on the new platform if any, will its affect those high transactions fees they are charging on Ecocash, Will that also address those “IM not available” problems or fake receipt of airtime from Ecocash which will instatntly disappear or transaction which might report unsuccessful yet it was successfull!
      We deserve every bit of information my friend as customers and that’s where Techzim chip in, they have skills and contacts which we cant have!

      1. Why the moved, what benefits are we going to enjoy on the new platform if any…

        Well, Comviva’s rival product to PMT’s is Mobiquity, which really is a Mastercard Mobile Money Partnership partner, which means you can have a Mastercard for your Ecocash account, if Econet wishes to do so. MTN has done this in South Africa and Nigeria on its MTN Banking product. Mastercard partnered Comviva to do this as it seeks to penetrate the emerging markets (developing world), which is where Comviva has the widest reach and is very active. It certainly will help local commerce if Econet decides that Ecocash also have Mastercard.

        To me, it does not matter anymore how good or right PMT’s technology is because I won’t be using it anymore. I am now more interested in the service and opportunities that will be offered by the Comviva platform.

        No doubt you are right, there are folks who want to know what PMT was let go. But as for me, I will let the past go and move forward.

  2. Do you identify clearly yourself as a journalis…uh, blogger in your emails? It’s possible that the CEO was unaware and assumed you are someone’s technical partner and included privileged information in his response. This would be congruent with him saying that he did not authorize this information for disclosure to the public.

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