Zimbabwe and regional technology news and updates


Econet’s move to Comviva to give Zimbabwe e-commerce jetpacks

EcoCash, Comviva, MasterCard

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

EcoCash, Comviva, MasterCardAs 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?

Quick NetOne, Econet, And Telecel Airtime Recharge

9 thoughts on “Econet’s move to Comviva to give Zimbabwe e-commerce jetpacks

  1. super, when is this development likely to materialise, it sounds like a golden goose, ie if they dont charge absurdly huge charges for transactions

  2. @google-337a0611ce151d8f092a9d43d6c480fb:disqus as you stated commissions and fees will be something to watch. Might be that the consumer should wait until it’s available by multiple providers and charges/commissions are more realistic.

    This will be something the tech community will be watching closely.

    1. its really worrisome how zimbabweans tend to overcharge for everything, its sickening

  3. This is a welcome move from Econet but as it has always been the case we are still not able able to transact with major financial giants using Visa or MasterCard issued in Zimbabwe. For instance a few years ago you would not access your PayPal account in Zimbabwe. I mean a functional account opened outside Zimbabwe. Once your IP is detected your account goes on suspension……lol. That has since changed. Now you can access your account in Zimbabwe but you can’t link your Visa or MasterCard issued in Zimbabwe. As long as we are not fully accepted as an economically and politically viable country to deal with them, it will be difficult for Zimbabweans to transact through pay-pal and other financial institutions.

    I personally will be happy if the move yields positive results. Most service providers like who provide service for smaller amounts will be able to receive smaller payments without incurring hefty expense.

    1. The paypal issue is not about economic viability. It is rather a policy crafted pursuant to the Zimbabwe Economic Recovery Act. Google Checkout works just as well. Also on other websites you just need to select 2checkout. I know the Paypal policy is silly and inconvenient but you can live without them albeit miserably.

      1. It actually is about viability. just because Google Checkout accepts Zimbabwean-issued cards does not mean it is viable for Google. Facebook even has plenty of Africans on it that buy nothing from Facebook.

        If ZDERA was the reason, not even Google Checkout would be accepting Zimbabwean cards.

        1. Only Paypal explicitly states ZDERA as a reason for not activating accounts of Zimbabwean individuals registered. Either as a merchant or buyer.

          Google Checkout allows for Zimbabwean based buyers but not sellers/merchants. It is a LONG process allowing for merchant registration & transactions. Because they HAVE TO adapt the transaction process to match the regulations/requirements of merchant’s country where the receiving account is hosted

          If you have a VISA International card from Barclays, Stanchart etc (e.g. usually through premium banking @Barclays who offer by INVITATION or minimum balance & transaction activity + $25 @Stanchart) YOU CAN PAY anywhere globally, on any site/service that accepts VISA without issues. That true VISA service has never been disrupted for account holders in Zimbabwe.

          The basic Barclays card is misleadingly labeled VISA. That VISA on that basic card refers to POS swiping convenience. In Zim, Barclays owns the VISA network/franchise. But the basic card does not work outside Zim

Comments are closed.