No-one likes standing in a queue to pay for service that can be provided online. It’s part of the new age arrogance that comes with mobile broadband and it’s also the simple truth that explains why we love the idea of using ubiquitous technology like mobile money to power simple solutions.
Mundane tasks like buying prepaid electricity vouchers fall into that segment which is what services like pre-paid.co.zw are thankfully trying to address.
Pre-paid allows users to send there ZESA account details, the amount they wish to buy and their phone number through an online interface. This is followed by a prompt for payment through EcoCash or Telecash via SMS. You can make transactions of between $2 and $490.
This essentially automates the process of initiating mobile money payment for ZESA tokens through an independent agent. Most of these independent prepaid agents are the people behind the numerous adverts that have started popping up on social media, especially in various WhatsApp groups.
I had the chance to use Pre-paid twice over the past four days, and the service seemed like a fairly reliable way of avoiding the hassle of leaving a football or rugby match just to go and get a ZESA topup. I was, however, a bit squeamish about the absence of channels for following up on a delayed transaction.
The last thing you want is to effectively deposit money into a faceless EcoCash merchant wallet and be faced with the nightmare of following up on it when the transactions is delayed or its improperly executed.
Which is why this payment automation should also include an EcoCash biller code alternative which, at the end of the day feels a lot safer. It’s not a reflection on the type of service provided by Pre-paid or any other independent agent, but a reality around the perceptions around any electronic movement of money.
As long as ZESA doesn’t take on Econet’s EcoCash platform as an official channel for selling prepaid electricity vouchers, there will be more of these workarounds like pre-paid which has joined other EcoCash/ZESA prepaid alternatives like recharge.co.zw and TelOne’s telpay.co.zw.
Perhaps now that Nettcash is an official seller of prepaid ZESA and Telecel’s Telecash also appears to have gotten the green light to tap into ZESA, we just might see EcoCash being brought into the fray. For now, we’re best served by providers like pre-paid.co.zw.