A senior Econet Wireless executive, Mr Darlington Mandivenga, who is responsible for the rollout of EcoCash, has dismissed a claim reportedly made by Bankers Association of Zimbabwe’s immediate past president, Mr John Mushayavanhu, stating that Econet has denied banks access to its platform for integration.
Mr Mandivenga said: “That is simply not true. We have agreements with most of the banks, and we are currently carrying out physical connections with most of them. We as Econet initiated the process, and we are very keen to get it completed, but it cannot be rushed because it involves accessing bank accounts.”
Mr Mandivenga said Econet expects most banks to have their systems running by the end of March. “Right now I am expecting three major banks to go live within 10 days, because we are almost complete.”
The Econet Wireless executive named CABS as the only institution which has been actively trying to fight the EcoCash service and has tried unsuccessfully to lobby against it.
“As you know, CABS have been working with ZIMSWITCH to launch a service called Textacash. Since their own customer base is very small compared to the Econet subscriber base of 8 million, they want us to open up our system, so that they can simply spam any of our customers with text messages. We will never allow that because it would not only violate our license, it would be total abuse of customers’ privacy.”
Mr Mandivenga named former CABS boss, Mr Kevin Terry, now at Old Mutual, as the main instigator.
“He wants to create an impression that this is the position of all banks, but he does not disclose to them that it is his own interest that he is fighting for. If CABS and Zimswitch want to compete with us, they are free to do so, but they must build a proper system that reaches the rural people in Zimbabwe. They have been there for decades, and never did anything to benefit the masses. This is not about the interests of banks or cell phone companies, it is about providing services to ordinary Zimbabweans,” he said.
Mr Mandivenga said that the campaign by Mr Terry had not surprised Econet. “Our friends in the banking system have told us about his campaigns to try and preserve the status quo in which less than 3% of our people had access to the formal financial system, and where thousands of people had to line up every month for hours just to access their own money, or travel all day just to find a CABS branch. This is not the future.”
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