Telecash and EcoCash: is there a war for mobile money agents going on?

L.S.M Kabweza Avatar

telecash-boxOver the past several days, the discussion in the mobile money space locally has been around a threatening SMS that Econet was accused of sending to their EcoCash agents, essentially telling them that becoming Telecash agents would be a bad move. The SMS, which was also sent to us by a number of people read:

Please note that the business will be closing all agent lines that have been polluted by our competitor starting Monday. The two can not mix. @Econet Wireless

The first report to go up on the issue was one by Bulawayo24, but we notice they took it down. There’s another one still live on iHarare though.

So did Econet send the SMS? Our first reaction after receiving the news was that the SMS couldn’t possibly be official. It’s language is too casual. We spoke to Econet executives to check and the confirmed no such message had been authorised or sent by the network. In fact they were surprised and indicated they were investigating.

We tried to locate but failed to find any agents that received such a message ourselves. All we were getting were forwards. One EcoCash agent though, who’s not accepting Telecash yet, told us he’d preferred to stay away from Telecash because his friend at Econet had told him there could be problems down the road if he did.

On where the message came from, eventually a source sent us an Econet employee’s phone number, and told us that was the source of the message. We called the number and the guy basically said he couldn’t speak to the press referring all questions to HQ. Econet HQ basically said they’d also been made aware of the same number but that there’s no merit whatsoever in the SMS issue they would not issue any official response.

EcoCash agents at work

But the issues seems to be getting worse: a source at Telecel told us today that a number of possible agents had told them they were receiving verbal threats from Econet. Verbal, because, according to the source, Econet was now avoiding any communication that could be used as evidence.

Assuming the the threats were true, would Econet have any understandable reason to make such a move. Yes, actually. Remember one of the reasons the mobile money re-entry by Telecel is expected to be easier is that Econet has already invested heavily in an agent network and soft infrastructure (education, training material, sessions, learning from costly mistakes etc…). Mobile money agentship cannot be compared to selling airtime recharge cards or selling beers at a bottle store.

Telecel doesn’t have to spend money on these things because they’ve been done for them by Econet. In fact, if you look at Telecel’s tariff schedule, they basically copied the structure of the Econet one and just made the tariffs lower. Kinda same way Econet copied the M-pesa one back when they launched.

Whether however, this ‘we-invested-in-soft-infrastructure’ is reason enough for Econet, we can’t say.

There’s also the issue of the agent’s liquidity. Econet has said that through its bank, Steward Bank, it will support its agents with cash if they run out. Could there be fears that if an agent does Telecash transactions the cash float could be mixed up and therefore compromise the cashflow injection support Econet provides?

All this is just conjecture ofcourse. What’s clear though is that Econet’s agent contract doesn’t require mobile money service exclusivity.


  1. Zim Inov8

    we applaud when they break new ground but this is not acceptable. competition is healthy this is not professional at all. politicising business. shame on whoever came up with the idea, they have no place in the civilised world

  2. Angela Centra

    I think the idea of competition as healthy is overrated. When you are in business you protect your USP and your competitive advantage, if anything every business wants to dominate win and be a monopoly. Econet has worked hard, and their large agent network is an investment they should not cede. M-pesa was actually aggressive enough to buy out airtel money agents and offer them higher commissions just to retain their dominance……

  3. purple

    Obviously one two verbal threats thrown casually can prevent your competition coming onto your some turf

  4. MhukaHuru

    I have a proposal, If and Only if (iff in programming) its true, this is my chance to get as many people away from Econet to Telecel, How? How about urging all Ecocash Agents who receives such threats to then drop EcoCash and go for Telecash, the more agents, the more people are gonna come for your –Cash, hence all Econet clients who cant find agents closer will have to use Telecash which has more agents, we cant tolerate this, am willing to invest in this . . .

    1. Marunda

      Ndo proposal iyoyi? Rema remunhu. Unoti i politics here dzinohwinwa nekunyengera vanhu? Agent arikudya pa EcoCash wongomuti siya nekuda kusapota Telechinyi iyoyi? Does it matter to an agent if the $ is from EcoCash or Telecopy? Haufunge iwe. Next time kana wogera kamusoro ako usagera ne Brain kana unadzo! Love them or hate them, EcoCash has done well. Zve Telecopy zvekuda kuhwinha business nekunzwirwa tsitsi ndezvechibharanzi izvo. Ini I am an Agent, I have registered chitelecopy ichochi. Chikandipa bhanzi kukunda EcoCash, ndoo pandinoisiya EcoCash yacho. I did not receive any SMS, Hapana akambondityikidzira. The decision is mine. Isu takamboreva here kuti ivo vce Telecopy pavanouya pas hop pano they speak more about EcoCash than they do about Telecopy. From there ndoo patakaona kuti if you want sympathy as a competitive edge get out of business.

      1. MhukaHuru

        I think Econet is now paying some people to come and defend them here . . .

        1. Marunda

          Small and corrupt minds think like this. Are you suggesting you were paid by telecopy for your shallow proposal above? When a fool runs out of facts they think someone has been paid. The country has such unemployment and you suggest all agents must leave EcoCash agency for telecopy.
          That is shallow. Hon Chinotimba has better economics than you and yet people make fun of him. He could teach you a thing two. Usavenga vanhu sekuvenga kwaumoita Econet zvisina reason. For some of us we love both Telecel and Econet. These two sustained us when there was no option tichitengesa airtime. Now mobile money. All I say is let the best man win. For now EcoCash is the elephant in the room . My profits on EcoCash and Buddie in a week are a hundred times better than Telecel airtime and telecopy money. When it comes to business I go with the highest bidder. Today that bidder is Econet and EcoCash. God bless and donate some brains…

          1. MhukaHuru

            Funny the extent to which you go, the vitrol you spew around and the ‘nice’ words you use to defend a company we all know is not exactly client-centric, I also hope i do get some brains!

            1. Marunda

              Stop being a hater! If its client centicism them raise that as the issue haikona kuti Kambani itovharwa! The guys have done well , give it to them, Telecel strategy is seeking sympathy on everything, isu tirikutsvaga mari, sympathy haibhadhare rent!

              1. MhukaHuru

                OK, 1) I am a proud user of an Econet line, I dont even have a Telecel line, but that doesnt mean I love/like Ecoshit,
                2) I never said ngaivhare and
                3) If you have always followed my comments when it comes to Econet, My issues always border on them not being client-centric, and i dont have to say that everytime I comment here or anywhere else, not for you Mr brainfull!
                4) I will not label others funny names in a bid to defend some capitalistic entity, NEVER!
                5) I will not stoop so low as to retaliate by calling you names and brainless and stuff, but maybe if we can argue with facts not name-calling

              2. chirau

                @MhukaHuruShava:disqus na @disqus_XJeYBNERNw:disqus kusazongizivana chete, tambai mose mujairirane

              3. Marunda

                Check the last word in your comments that’s name calling so why would you say you do not do it? Saka ndirikunamatira kuti uwedzerwe pfungwa. The bottom line brother is let’s not hate, let the best company win. If you feel Telecel is customer centric, enda Ikoko and stop telling the world what to do. Good luck, God bless.

              4. Buddie

                A question: why not buy a telecel line if their service is so great? Why are you punishing yourself by using “ecoshit” as you are saying? Is it true that you might be confused? Sometimes it is hard to admit you love somethings, maybe you are in love with econet, only that you are too confused to know it!

          2. tsaona

            FOR your own infomartion Telecel was the first to introduce mobile banking through SKWAMA

      2. techosavvy

        Wow, talk about being emotional! Its just business my brother/sister, no need to throw insults. Like you said, may the best man win

        1. Marunda

          Thank you @techniaavvy. There is a painful culture of hatred in this country and it’s irritating but agin as you say. I will calm down…

        2. MhukaHuru

          Hahaha, am also baffled, just to quote few phrases towards this rather ‘brainless’ individual:
          “Rema remunhu,
          Haufunge iwe,
          Next time kana wogera kamusoro ako usagera ne Brain kana unadzo!
          Small and corrupt minds,
          When a fool runs out of facts,
          God bless and donate some brains…

          All in the name of defending Econet, Hahaha, And we want to talk of tolerance in Zimbabwe!!!

  5. Langton

    Unfortunately for Telecel they are competing with a monster!

    1. Shayamombe

      Iyo Telecel yamuri kutaura inombori ne maSubscriber manganiko? It will never, EVER overtake Econet ! It is well below Econet standards. Chero Network yavo haisvike pane Econet. So dre
      am on. Zviroto chaizvo izvi.

  6. Welly Mbedzi

    Typical of econet to bully its clients, today our agent line was bared reason of entering a wrong pin, but when we went to ecocash they said we were disconnected because we were doing telecash. I argued with them on grounds that we were subletting our shop and a different guy had signed up for telecash, to my supprise was told the two MUST not be in the same premises… Now am so confused to what they “EcoCash” really want from us.. I would appreciate advise…

    1. MhukaHuru

      Its such a shame people dont realise how Evil Econet is!!!

      1. Welly Mbedzi

        Let alone its our float money that breathes life to all this mobile money…

  7. Udzai Munhumumwe

    Zimpost is an ECOCASH agent. It offers ECOCASH, TELECASH, ONEWALLET, WESTERN UNION etc. Since according to Econet, that is undesirable “pollution” – I challenge EcoCASH to terminate the agency agreement with ZIMPOST. Of course they wont. They are bullying poor Mai Biggie Hair Salon and preventing her from expanding her product range. Talk of being Godly and Inspired!!!!

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