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EcoCash MasterCard debit card: Econet launches the payments game changer

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We just attended the launch of Econet’s new EcoCash linked MasterCard card in Harare. A lot about the card is like what we wrote about yesterday. But there are a few things to add.

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First, Econet has named the product EcoCash Debit Card, essentially, the same name of the virtual debit card. We learnt today by the way that the virtual debit card was indeed unpopular.

The EcoCash debit card facts:

  • The card works like any other MasterCard debit card. You can pay with it anywhere in the world, including in Zimbabwe.
  • You can use the card to pay for stuff on the internet wherever MasterCard is accepted, and that’s a majority of the merchants.
  • The card is not a prepaid card. It accesses the EcoCash wallet to enable a payment.
  • Users of the card can also withdraw money from MasterCard licensed ATMs. We have no idea how many of these are there in the country.
  • The card uses what is called EMV Chip and PIN technology, which is much more secure than magnetic stripe cards that most of the local banks still use.
  • The card is what MasterCard refers to as the Mobile Money Companion debit card.
  • According to MasterCard this is the first time that physical MasterCard debit cards are available to people using mobile money services in Africa.
  • The old virtual debit card is not being retired. It will keep working in the background. In fact it still covers situations where there’s no MasterCard POS.

 Cost & getting the card

  • The cost of the card to the customer getting it is $2
  • Transactions fees will be between 30 cents and $2.45
  • The EcoCash Debit card is available at select agents (about 700 of them they said), Steward Bank branches and Econet shops. So do note that not all agents (there’s over 13,000 the last time we heard) can sell you one.
EcoCash CEO, Cuthbert Tembedza, speaks at the launch of the EcoCash Mastercard debit card in Harare today
EcoCash CEO, Cuthbert Tembedza, speaks at the launch of the EcoCash MasterCard debit card in Harare today

Our thoughts

The huge convenience here is that now the EcoCash wallet is also a MasterCard wallet. That is huge in so many ways whether you just want to pay for stuff at a shop in your neighbourhood, want to buy stuff across the borders, or want to buy off the internet.

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Between having EcoCash and a MasterCard, you will almost always never need to have cash. Except of course the the remaining fact that some informal guys will still refuse to have you pay them via mobile money because it costs them to withdraw the money when they eventually need to cash it out.

Unfortunately, it’s not clear yet just how many MasterCard enabled Point of Sale Devices are out there. Cuthbert Tembedza, the EcoCash CEO however did allude to the fact that they are going to to contribute to the process of building local acquiring infrastructure.

The good thing for Econet is that this is not their work alone. There are a lot of banks including FBC, CBZ, Stanbic, Standard Chartered etc… that are part of the effort of building the infrastructure. And MasterCard itself.

According to Econet, they are looking at local POS transactions as the big opportunity for the new card. Unfortunately, without ZimSwitch, there’s a limit to how many merchants can accept EcoCash’s new card.

Again though, we say this without any numbers of how many ZimSwitch enabled POS devices are out there compared to MasterCard ones. Our guess is that MasterCard POS devices are dwarfed in comparison, but then the banks haven’t exactly been healthy these past couple of years. And surely, Econet has the deep pockets to change that overnight.

It’s also hard to say right now just how popular the card will be with the man on the street. We spend a lot of time with people that buy stuff off the internet and in other countries, so it’s easy to assume our excitement, and that of any other person on the street will be the same. In short, we’re very excited with this product, but we’re not the market!

You can read the MasterCard press release here.


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78 thoughts on “EcoCash MasterCard debit card: Econet launches the payments game changer

  1. Can this card be linked to paypal etc?? If so then the telecel card has no comparison, the only trump telecash think they have is the zim switch trump of which zim switch is slowly being replaced by ecocash POS and merchants Incase they hadn’t noticed, and nw with the introduction of MasterCard they dead and buried. Time for them to wake up and realize we r in a global economy which Econet have already done

  2. Its pathetic that we have people from ECONET and TELECEL posting here punting their products.

  3. I do not see ecocash competing with banks such as FBC on customer service seeing that this is a mass product but Kudos to Econet for the EMV product

  4. Ok people lets get this straight. If Eco cash now has a mastercard that means its also possible to pay using paypal as Paypal accepts mastercard without the need for a paypal account. Somebody please tell me this is so, coz that would be fantastic for my business.

  5. the ecocashdebit card does not do online transactions, you need to create a virtual card to use online.

      1. Ditto, it doesn’t work on the net, speak to Stewards and sort this out, Don’t advertise something that does not work correctly. im just saying

  6. I created the ecocash debit card for online transactions still saying errors, i think econet just launched a service that is not ready like what they did with the free Twitter issue, they just trying to compete with Telecash but with a not ready product.

  7. At some point I would like Techzim to moderate some of the comments being posted here. It is clear most of them are coming from clowns from the competing mobile operators. People come here to hear evaluations of new technologically based products in order to be assisted to make rational decisions. The rented mobs that one can clearly read through on the forum need to be shut out with their blatantly partisan contributions. One can easily see who these are by going through their comments on various articles carried by this site.

  8. This means less money for agents seeing as we got our commissions on Cash-Outs. If everyone can now do it on an ATM, then we will be making next to nothing soon

  9. ….the same institution which charges $7.00 for sending and receiving a $100.00 via Ecocash. And now you think they are cost effective? Charged people $100 for a SIM Card which in real terms should cost less than a dollar, and you say they are great… thaaaaaa

  10. does this card have a transaction limit, say u want to buy something online which could cost you $5000 today and tomorow u want something for a $1000 online again

  11. The major problem for me with debit cards in zim is that you have problems with online betting sites…..so my question is this can i use this on my bet365.com account without any hustles?

  12. have smeone actually used the card to buy online i need to deposit money in my bet365 account.Someone help me plz

    1. yes, coz the debit card is just an extension of the wallet, whatever amount is in the wallet is the one in the debit card.

      1. i bought. this. card yesterday. in Zimbabwe. before leaving for south. Africa. i watched. the. agent. activate. it. infront ome. i am. in. Johannes burg now and it is not working at any ATM. stranded Econet does it again

  13. Can you assist please. I am a Zimbabwean and I want to pay UNISA application fee into standard bank south Africa. Is it possible to use the debit card for econet and at what charges?

  14. My brother just tried the card.It works on websites like Godaddy and Hostgator.Just what I needed,being able to pay online

  15. I work i lubumbashi DRC. I am a holder of an ecocash account. I had intended to receive my rental payments using ecocash and make transactions whenever i come to Harare. I came to Harare to get my econet fone on roaming and they assisted me and told me that i will be roamed as soon as i go out of Zimbabwe. I am not on roaming at all. I would like to use ecocash. Please Econet assist.

  16. I am in south Africa and someone sent m money into my ecocash acc but I have forgotten my MasterCard pin, how do I reset my pin without econet services where I am

  17. Why is it now i try to collect money from SOUTH ARICA IT DECLINE USING ECOCASH MASTER CARD

  18. I am in Germany and forgot my Debit Card Password, is it possible to retrieve a new password and how do i do that

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