This guest article was authored by Prosper Chikomo, an internet entrepreneur and author of Turning Iron into Gold: Golden Opportunities: How to Spot Them, Create Them, Make Money from Them, and How Not to Miss Them (Available on Amazon.com)
As great as Pattern Matched Technologies’ (PMT) platform is, the move to Comviva’s platform will certainly help push local e-commerce to new frontiers. Comviva’s Mobiquity mPayments platform can be linked to a debit or credit card (think Cellcard). This is very important as I will explain later.
Early this year (2012), MasterCard announced its Mobile Money Partnership Programme as it seeks to expand its reach in the developing world (emerging markets). To do this, MasterCard chose Comviva as one of its preferred partners. The Mobile Money Partnership will make it possible for people to buy goods and services, directly from their mobile phones, wherever Mastercard is accepted.
Implementations of MasterCard’s Mobile Money Partnership Program by MTN in South Africa and Nigeria reveal that users on Econet’s Comviva platform will have MasterCard cards, or be issued with MasterCard cards. In Econet’s case, regulatory approval with respect to issuing MasterCard will not really be a problem since TN Bank is “the EcoCash bank”.
So, if you are on Econet’s Comviva platform, theoretically, and all things being equal – if that should be a feature EcoCash will have – you will be able to pay for online purchases with your MasterCard credentials.
Econet’s huge agent network will/can act as the card loading points. Loading your MasterCard will be as easy as loading your EcoCash account.
MasterCard has about 300 million card holders in the US alone, and as everybody and his cat knows, MasterCard is accepted by every serious eCommerce website and many serious payment gateways. Comviva is used by over 50 banks and mobile network operators which also cover hundreds of millions of people.
This fact alone means, again all things being equal, that it will be possible to make cross border payments directly from your mobile phone, and to receive international MasterCard payments/transfers via MasterCard, if you are on Econet’s Comviva platform.
So how will the masses benefit from all this?
Right now a prepaid MasterCard, available in Zimbabwe only from FBC Bank, requires a minimum load of US$50, and then you are ready to go and make an online payment of say 50 cents. At the moment, EcoCash requires a minimum load of $5.
If it will require any amount to be able to pay via MasterCard through the Comviva platform, it means virtually everyone on EcoCash will be able to pay online using their MasterCard linked to EcoCash accounts.
So what will it mean for local internet entrepreneurs?
What it means is, you can use a payment gateway of your choice that accepts MasterCard, and virtually anyone with MasterCard credentials on the EcoCash platform will be able to buy from you online. This will certainly push local e-commerce forward and take e-commerce to another level.
The only challenge that will be there is educating people how to use these MasterCard credentials online, and safely. As long as people do not know how to us these cards online, the existence of the infrastructure will not translate into actual commerce or trade. This is also coupled with the fear of buying things online that is certain to exist in a market where such services are just being introduced.
The other benefit is that, because Comviva’s Mobiquity platform and MasterCard’s Mobile Money Partnership Programme also covers many countries, it means it will also be possible for people from all those countries to be able to buy from a local internet entrepreneur using their MasterCard credentials.
Basically, if EcoCash can give a MasterCard to every EcoCash user, it would really be a big deal nice for local eCommerce. Don’t you think?