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Zimbabwean banks renew pressure on regulators to reign in Econet

Bankers Association of ZimbabweA report today in The Herald, says there’s renewed pressure from the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) to have the regulatory authorities put measures that allow for mobile network access neutrality. The issue which has been pretty much outstanding for over a year now is that banks want neutral access to Econet’s mobile network to enable them to offer full USSD mobile banking functionality to subscribers on the network.

So far Econet has refused unfettered access, offering instead that the banks integrate at the EcoCash service level as opposed to the GSM network level. Their reasoning is ofcourse that they, with their +/- 9 million mobile subscribers (in a country that has 13 million people) have an opportunity to be the defacto mobile payments platform (or switch if you want) of the country.

The Herald report quotes a anonymous source:

“There is a feud in the market as banks are up in arms with Econet over its refusal to give them equal cost-effective and tamper- free access to its network for the delivery of mobile-based services. Econet is literally saying to banks, build your own network; this is pretty much like the Government or National Railways of Zimbabwe saying to someone who wants to go to Bulawayo by train build your own railway line.”

Well, except that Econet is neither the government, nor a parastatal.

The BAZ pressure comes at a time when local companies are complaining that Econet has implemented unfair restrictions on the flow of bulk SMS, making it impossible for financial institutions to provide SMS notifications to their customers. Econet on the other hand, has maintained that they are doing this to protect their subscribers from SMS spam, as required of them  by the telecoms regulator POTRAZ.

These complaints and pressure are compounded by the fact that Econet now owns a bank, and as a group, understandably motivated to further the interests of their bank at the expense of competing financial institutions. This, some players say, is why regulators need to reign in the company.

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13 thoughts on “Zimbabwean banks renew pressure on regulators to reign in Econet

  1. It was about time. Econet can not have it both ways.On one hand they want to bull doze into other sectors under the notion of innovate or whither.But on the other hand Econet Wireless Zimbabwe will take legal action if you go into the international wholesale termination business..Bring it on Econet you cant have it both ways and you know very well what I am talking about.

  2. The banks need to stop complaining and become innovative; they need to think outside the box or else they are going to fall onto hard times!!

  3. The BAZ should rather be putting pressure on banks to reduce exorbitant and ridiculous service charges/fees

  4. Until BAZ deals with its member banks who take depositors money without consequence, no one will take them seriously. Banks charge more and deliver little and when they collapse, they go with your money and BAZ has not done anything to stop this rot (bunch of spoiled brats). I hate local banks.

  5. nxa, these banks hve been stealing our money with crazy charges without developing new products. now they r crying because Econet has invested into its own development?

  6. I love your comments gents.Banks must stop crying and complaining the same way Econet must stop crying and complaining when other go into business they think they have a monopoly in.Very good you guys are spot on.No cry babies in technology and that includes Econet Wireless Zimbabwe.

  7. Good ….keep up the p-ressure….if banks can open up econet….obviously evryone else will follow….

  8. We dont want free riders, econet is not a gvt entity with obligation only to its shareholders.

    If banks are not happy with what econet is doing, zimswitch is eagely waiting for them to come on board.

    Econet is not my best but it is these same banks which refused to give it cheaper loans to develop infrastructure therefore forcing it to go on international markets.

    Econet ended getting very high interest loans because of high risk Zim is regarded. Those cost lm sure were fully passed to the consumer and now we have the same crying babies making noise.

    Invest in your own, you have the money; you can borrow from each other at 0 interest.

    1. True dat. Why don’t these cry-baby banks put their money together and buy into a telecom operator, then control their own platform – isn’t there a potential buy into Telecel/NetOne? Maybe then they will understand what it costs to build national coverage. I read this ridiculous article in the Herald. The bank’s whining about Econet and its use of “national spectrum resources” (kunge zvinonzi spectrum is free) and alluding to an NRZ railway line is just laughable. Econet paid over $150m+ in licensing fees and you want them to give you unfettered access to their proprietary platform. What are these bankers smoking?

      1. You missing the point, what the banks are asking for is the ability to operate their services over USSD and other platforms. They already have mobile banking platforms running on USSD so buying an operator would be pointless. The problem is econet stops them performing certain actions, eg cash out from mobile. Look at mobile banking on telecel vs econet and you will see what functions econet will not let the banks perform. There is no technical reason they cant have a cash send menu, and they pay econet to use that service, so what they asking for is legislation that says econet cant block other business functions from the network.
        Sure you can say it is econet’s network so they can do what they want, but the modern world doesn’t work like that. Government controls many facets of big business especially when near monopolies are involved. For example Zimswitch has to allow all other banks to connect to them and use their pos infrastructure, image they turned around and disconnected all but 4 big banks, it would kill the smaller banks and hurt the customer. By government not saying to econet, if there is no technical or for the good of the people reason to disallow a customer from using your service you need to give them full access as long as they are paying for it, all they are doing is hurting the people of Zimbabwe, because ecocash can continue to offer services no one else can at an exorbitant rate even though Econet (not ecocash) owns the network, is already integrated with USSD mobile for some banks and is being paid for the service.
        It is the same as econet going and blocking a furniture store from making phone calls because it would compete with EcoFurn. Or ZOL blocking access to techzim because they started their own tech review site. The customer needs to be protected from internal wanglings.

        1. Well said – you have it hit the issue right on the spot . Econet want to thrive on monopolistic tendencies . BAZ should put immense pressure on this issue and on the regulators . Econet has been getting away with bribing Potraz officials and such nonsense . M-pesa by Safaricom in Kenya provides all banks the USSD platform for the banks to offer their own mobile banking . Strive Masiyiwa is pig for such business practices.

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