Recently, local mobile operator, Econet made a decision to create a dual account system catering for voice credit and for content credit. While it seems that the system succeeded in solving then disappearing airtime problem,it has also created a host of other complications including for Econet itself.
My airtime is safe, so where is the challenge?
Firstly, Econet must now take its subscribers through an education process where it teaches them how to share and exchange credit between the two accounts.
During this this learning curve a few things will happen. Firstly, subscribers will continue to topup as they have, the only difference being that their airtime no longer “disappears”.
Some subscribers may not even be aware of the new arrangement which does not make much of a difference for them as their airtime remains untouched while they have also subscribed to Social Media bundles like WhatsApp bundles. I personally haven’t received any notification of the change.
Also affected are VAS service providers such as Newsday’s Mobi News and Herald’s Breaking news service, daily quotes, daily scriptures, International News services and so forth. These services worked by deducting money directly from the primary account.
This is no longer the case as the applications are now directed to the content account for payment. Newsday ended up issuing instructions on how to perform this transaction to recoup while Herald news and classifieds sends back the details via SMS when one tries to subscribe.
There are a host of other services that will be affected from Econet’s family of VAS such as EcoSure and Twitter via USSD. I wonder if they will be given the same treatment and also refer to the content account for payment.
I suppose from a developer point of view it would make sense for an If-Else condition where if there is no credit in one account, the application refers to the next account or declines the service.
This would make sure that one continues to receive a service as long there is credit in any one of the account, or the two combined. In this scenario subscribers would however really need to read before they “approve” the terms and conditions.
Econet could also see a dip in data services that have no bundle packages. In other words, all other applications that are not included in their bouquet of bundles that have used ordinary airtime now have to give another bundle, the special bundle, priority.
The dual account system could also result in reduction of both voice and data consumption. Subscribers weren’t particularly cautious on what goes to data and what goes to voice as they could not separate the two. One could easily and comfortably use a whole dollar worth of airtime and stay on a call until airtime runs out.
With the same dollar now split between two accounts (think of a 50/50 scenario), once the calling account is out of money for example there is lesser likelihood that they will transfer credit from the content account even if it means one needs now call for shorter time.
Overall this results in lengthier consumption cycle as credit is preserved and juggled between accounts and given a longer validity than normal. A different example from the above is how one can store credit in their call account and only transfer 10 cents as and when they need to use a data application such as to search for directions using Google maps. That’s as much as they will use for a whole day considering that they are already on WhatsApp bundles.