Banks, Econet & Net Neutrality: Econet asking more for mobile money traffic

   

net-neutralityLast week, we revealed that Econet and local banks hand reached an understanding with banks to open up its platform for full USSD functionality for the ZimSwitch mobile money transfer services. However, a headline story in today’s Herald Business has revealed the price Econet is charging the banks for each money transfer to a mobile phone that an Econet SIM holder makes.

In the article last week, we mentioned the fact that the issue of Econet charging more for transfers to mobile phones was still a sticking point. The Herald report says it indeed is as Econet is asking for USD 30 cents for each USSD session where the subscriber sends money to a mobile number. In comparison, for all other transactions like buying airtime for example, Econet charges 5 cents. And as for what the other networks charge the banks – 0 cents.

As we mentioned last week, this brings into question issues to do with network neutrality to traffic from 3rd parties:

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This is akin to an internet provider charging more per megabyte for traffic to some websites (competitor websites) than they would for all other traffic.

It may be therefore that Econet is pushing the banks to the EcoCash option – that is to integrate at the EcoCash level. Or is just distracting the banks when Telecel needs their attention most.

According to the report, in addition to the prohibitive fees, Econet is apparently also proposing unfavourable terms like:

  • Econet has unilateral power to suspend or terminate services
  • Econet can adjust tariffs at short notice
  • Econet wants transaction fee settlements done daily
  • Econet wants to retain the right to approve which marketing material from banks can be terminated on its network
  • Agreements valid for one year

Although the Herald report says that banks are threatening to decline RTGS transactions from Econet owned Steward Bank as a way to arm twist Econet into better terms, industry sources say no bank can refuse to transact with an another via RTGS because the RTGS is owned and managed by the reserve bank and any licensed bank is entitled to use it.

Banks can still press Econet by leveraging the ZimSwitch shared services which Steward Bank is not yet a part of.


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