Econet Wireless Zimbabwe says that its mobile money transfer service, EcoCash, has handled transactions in excess of $4 billion since the service was introduce in 2011.This was highlighted by Econet’s group CEO Douglas Mboweni to parliamentarians at a familiarisation tour of the company yesterday.
This impressive figure was achieved though 170 million transactions handled by the operator’s 10 000 agents with an impact to 4.2 million people or 53% of the adult population. He pointed out how EcoCash has created 30 000 jobs and through products such as EcoCashSave has reintroduced the culture of saving.
Detailing the growth trajectory of EcoCash, Mboweni mentioned how the service was launched with 300 brand ambassadors throughout the country and 500 agents in the last quarter of 2011. By March 2012 over 1 million subscribers had signed up for the service. He attributed this to the company’s huge investment into the service which now stands at $1.2 billion.
EcoCash services have expanded to include the EcoCashSave mobile wallet, bill payment, bulk payment, POS terminals, Payroll as well as an EcoCash loan facility. The service has boosted financial inclusion with its accounts exceeding a total of 1 million against a combined national figure of 853 000 for all bank accounts.
Mboweni dismissed some commonly held beliefs that the Ecocash platform favoured the group’s subsidiary Steward Bank by pointing out how ten commercial banks are integrated to the EcoCash system.
He pointed out that EcoCash money is held in trust accounts and not in Steward Bank only. Seven of the ten integrated banks currently hold the money. CBZ holds the largest portion of EcoCash money followed by Stanbic Bank with Steward Bank coming in as the third largest holder.
In the same address Mboweni highlighted the operational challenges the company was facing which included accessibility to base station sites and costs for alternative power such as diesel which at times runs 70% of the network’s infrastructure.
On the issue of shared infrastructure Mboweni mentioned how Econet shares infrastructure with other networks as well as local authorities, ZESA, NRZ and Transmedia. He also highlighted how the state owned Netone has generally been unwilling to share base station sites, contrary to reports that Econet was the one refusing to share. Presently Econet shares sites with Telecel.