Last week we reported that Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, is in the process of introducing its mobile money service, EcoCash, in the transport sector. We got a tip from a student at one university where the company had, apparently, rolled out a pilot. We just got a press release from them that says more than 200 commuter omnibus (“kombi” in local lingo) operators have started accepting EcoCash money for bus fare from commuters.
Curiously though, the release is titled “Econet to pay companies that take EcoCash”. The first thing we thought when we read that was “Isn’t that what they’re supposed to do anyway?” – to make sure people or businesses that accept mobile money can convert it into real cash that is? So we tried getting a clarification but they’re busy right now, and us being the impatient ones, we’re posting anyway.
Here’s the exact wording of part of the release:
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Businesses that accept payment in EcoCash are now able to exchange it for cash at Econet Wireless Zimbabwe approved banks, the company has announced.
Econet said hundreds of companies have already signed agreements to take EcoCash payments which they can cash in at TN Bank.
Other banks were expected to offer the service within two weeks. “We are working to get all banks on board by the end of October,” said Mr Darlington Mandivenga, a senior executive at the company.
We suspect the wording of the release has to do with concerns in the market, some of them expressed in the comments to our previous article, about the ease (or lack thereof) with which the Kombi operators can access real cash during the day to pay for things like fuel, food and… ahem, bribes to the powers that be on the road.
The release also says that the EcoCash Kombi service has proved popular since launch last week. Exactly how popular though is probably still too early for the company to measure.