Role of partnerships and open mobile money ecosystems highlighted by remittances successes

Nigel Gambanga Avatar

An article published in the recent edition of the Sunday Mail has managed to highlight the milestones that the EcoCash and WorldRemit partnership has reached.

A number of remarkable figures from a study conducted by WorldRemit were cited. Over 2o,000 transactions are handled every month on the EcoCash/WorldRemit platform, far exceeding the average of 5,000 transactions for cash pickups.

The EcoCash and WorldRemit partnership has attracted more than 10,000 customers in over 30 markets, with 74% of these customers who use the Android and iOS apps acting as return customers.

All this points to the significance of partnerships in boosting the relevance of two distinct areas of businesses – mobile money and remittances.

Looking at the remittances market, which has always been a significant contributor towards capital inflows ($837 million was remitted through formal channels in 2014) most service providers in that space have struggled with delivering convenience to the recipient of the money and offering a favourable pricing model which has been attributed to the channels they use.

Through strategic partnerships, as has been the case with examples like EcoCash and WorldRemit, Western Union, Chitoro or MoneyGram and even Telecel and Mukuru, convenience is amplified and costs of remittances can be reduced.

This places an impetus on remittance services to identify partnerships with mobile money services in the local market. While EcoCash has been the more receptive mobile money service provider, there are still other mobile money entities that can be tapped for similar relationships.

It’s not just a win for traditional remittance services, though. Other than EcoCash and Telecash, the other mobile money services like OneWallet and Nettcash also need to jump at the opportunity being created by remittances concerns that are trying to deliver money into the wallets of their receiving customers.

An open door policy from all these mobile money services would not only improve their access to money within their respective ecosystems, it would also give opportunities to competing remittance services to spread their networks.

The success of platform-as-a-service types like mobile money lies in opening that platform up to service extensions, rather than holding on to it in its singular form. The sooner the holders of the platforms realise this, the easier they will tap into opportunities for expanded revenue.

It won’t be just the mobile money services and remittance services benefiting when that happens. The biggest winners are, of course, the sender and receiver of the money.

This logic is what gives merit to any argument on shared APIs or partnerships outside existing ecosystems. Sure, there can be successful attempts at delivering this individually, but it only lasts for so long, and the hurdles are sometimes too numerous to scale within a reasonable time.

A good example is how EcoCash took an extended period to activate its South African EcoCash diaspora service. Opening up to other service providers and partnering with them was the trick that gave the resounding results that are now being carried together with WorldRemit and any other remittance service for that matter.


  1. macd chip

    Im not impressed by the numbers considering the total number of Zimbos outside the country.

    What drives figures up or down is total cost of transacting through the system.

    I will never use World remit and all its partnering buddies because of the costs. Im registered with, bt waiting until their prices are reasonable.

    When lm using Western Union, they get their money or profit from charging you 1c less than the market rates.
    Note that you have to be a registered user and using bank transfer to get good rates plus cheap sending costs.
    Vetting takes about 3working days after you sent required docs.

    Flip that to World Remit, first they give very low exchange rates then Ecocash will also be waiting to charge you.

  2. Jay

    @macd chip, WesternUnion is not cheap as u claim, second its inconvenient for most families back home. With World remit u receive ur money @ the comfort of ur on home. SURELY $3 CHARGE IS NOT TOO BAD COMPARED TO $6 ONE WAY FARE TO TOWN FROM A VILLAGE SOMEWHERE IN ZIM TO COLLECT MONEY.

    1. fourwallsinaroom

      Just checked Western Union / Money Gram $9.50 and $9.99 respectively to send $300 from the USA to ZIM. Coupled with $4.85 to cash out. Thats $15 to move money. or 5%
      World remit charges $10.00 but offers the convenience of an online transaction. (with money gram and western union if you do it online the costs shoots up to $27)
      So simple if you dont want the vetting, use world remit or walk into a western union money gram,dont do it online!

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