Zimbabwe and regional technology news and updates


Exclusive: Econet to introduce an EcoCash linked Mastercard card. Why this is big

ecocash-mahindra-mastercardEconet, we have been told by reliable sources, is finally going to launch a Mastercard card that’s linked to the EcoCash wallet. It took a long time but not too late and it’s definitely not little by any margin.

Some background first. About two years ago, a year after Econet had launched the EcoCash mobile money service, a writer on Techzim suggested that there was an opportunity for Econet to introduce a Mastercard card linked to the EcoCash wallet. This, said Chikomo the author, would give jetpacks to Zimbabwe’s e-commerce ecosystem. It had already been done by MTN in South Africa and Nigeria.

Econet did introduce a card about a year later. But it was a virtual one. It’s not clear how well the virtual debit card has done for Econet, but the slow process of going through numerous USSD menus is no fun for anyone, and the smartphone apps don’t work that well yet.

Albeit 2 years later, and probably spurred by the competition, Econet is finally introducing that Mastercard card. We’re not clear yet though if this means the card will work seamlessly wherever Mastercard is accepted or if it’s the case of subscribers needing to load the card from their phones first. We hope the former but there’s no huge difference really.

Even though PayPal has come to the market now, Mastercard on EcoCash is still a huge deal for people that buy online. Especially because it cuts out the bank component which PayPal does not. Going to a physical bank to load up a prepaid mastercard, or just maintaining a Mastercard enabled bank account comes with the traditional processes and limited branch reach that has paved the way for mobile money to disrupt banks. For a mobile subscriber to be able to load up their EcoCash wallet and immediately use that value to buy stuff online changes the possibilities significantly.

Forget internet payments, just knowing that at any border, I can quickly load up my EcoCash wallet so I can use Mastercard to shop anywhere I’m traveling to in the world is massive on its own.

The EcoCash linked Mastercard is supposed to launch by the end of this month. (Update: it’s tomorrow. We just got an invite to an EcoCash event) We’re also told that unfortunately, the card is not launching with integration to the local bank payment switch, ZimSwitch, but that this may come in future. No surprises there. The frost is yet to thaw, it’s clear. Soon, we hope.

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17 thoughts on “Exclusive: Econet to introduce an EcoCash linked Mastercard card. Why this is big

  1. At what cost? Are they going to rip us the same massive 8% plus they do on normal ecocash?

  2. All this with no PCI complience really or its pay as you go master card which is not so great considering the charges, But Comviva tech mahindra can help with that so not bad actually

    1. It is good considering teaming up with comviva who should have an international payment gateway for purchases online

  3. We are at the end of this month. This is really big and good news. It opens up tremendous opportunities for e-commerce, we do still need that API though. After coming this far why not go all the way and expose that API. Its only logical.

    1. Taura hako Tsenny, I anticipate certain limits on how much you can load into the prepaid card, from your Ecocash wallet, in light of exchange control regulations

  4. Well we have always had options when it comes to e-commerce i.e FBC prepaid mastercard,CBZ visa etc so this card is good in terms of convenience for loading cash but generally how many online transactions does an ordinary Zimbabwean need to do per month as compared to transactions on Zimswitch meaning the telecash Gold card remains superior in terms of relevance in the local market.

    1. Couldn’t agree more…Unless retailers add Mastercard to their POS systems and make it more widely accepted outside of the web

      1. Barclays has started this in victoria falls. I am sure harare will be next

  5. As with all Econet products and services, BE SURE to read the FINE PRINT because Econet might rip us off with ridiculous charges on this product. I would trust the Telecel Gold Card more, but would certainly not get the Ecocash Mastercard without reading ALL the terms and conditions.

  6. Not sure if this will be as fantastic as is being potrayed. Fraud, security issues etc would be of serious concern and one hopes that clients/customers will be insured against this by Econet where they assume all the risk. Would also be interesting to understand the hosting platform for all this.

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