Japhet Aritho, former Head of M-PESA Product Development and Operations at Safaricom
When we attended the EcoCash tour yesterday, two developments at the company stood out:
- A new hire, former Safaricom executive Japhet Aritho (Head of M-PESA Product Development and Operations) has joined the EcoCash team as Chief Operating Officer of Econet Services.
- And yes, Econet Services. The company that we had not heard about before yesterday was referred to. Its CEO is veteran Econet executive, Darlington Mandivenga.
Bringing in expat talent to manage EcoCash operations is a big deal. Bringing in former M-PESA product development and operations head is a whole bigger deal. At a global level, M-PESA has been one of the notabe success of mobile money on basic mobile phones.
The product virtually defined what mobile money is on the continent. Even though not always successfully, mobile money implementations by mobile operators across Africa have been modeled on M-PESA. Indeed Econet’s EcoCash is a copy of M-PESA in many ways. It goes without saying therefore how much wealth of experience and knowledge Aritho brings. Whether this experience and knowledge will be applied effectively to make EcoCash as wildly successful as M-PESA is ofcourse anyone’s guess at this stage. Nothing under the sun is guaranteed.
Now to Econet Services. We are told the new ‘company’ has been set up to manage strategic value added services. Information we have also suggests that they’ll be doing this not just for Econet Wireless Zimbabwe; but for the whole Econet Group, which points to it being a Johannesburg initiative. In terms of which strategic VAS the new company will manage, all that’s apparent right now is EcoCash, and maybe Ecolife, if it ever comes back. Our guess here is that even though it may expand into other services, Econet Services has been setup for EcoCash. Otherwise why would Aritho, with his M-PESA resume, be an Econet Services COO?
The CEO, Darlington Mandivenga has served as Marketing Director at Econet Wireless Zimbabwe and also more notably CEO for Econet Burundi amoung other capacities at operations of the group outside Zimbabwe.
We had conversations yesterday with both Aritho and Mandivenga focused specifically on EcoCash merchant services. Aritho, who is just 2 weeks old in his new job, sounded quite enthusiastic about EcoCash, even saying that it’s exceeded his M-PESA experience in terms of uptake of the services. He also said he was looking forward to the experience with EcoCash Commuter, a type of implementation of mobile money they didn’t go into at such a scale at Safaricom.
We’ll be posting an interview we had with Mandivenga on the state of EcoCash services currently. Please check back. (update: it’s here)