Who doesn’t want convenience these days? Thanks to an aggregation of different technologies, it’s now our 2015 prerogative. Just ask the people that have been coming up with the various workarounds that amplify this convenience and are making something out of it.
With all these solutions popping up, Zimpost, the state-owned enterprise that owns and manages all local postal services didn’t want to be left behind and has now introduced its own online payments and e-money platform.
It’s available on www.zimpost.mobi and users accessing the platform are required to register and create an account which will be used as a wallet for conducting the various transactions on the platform.
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Once registered, users have to deposit money into their wallets, after which they can select to buy ZESA prepaid electricity vouchers and airtime, make merchant payments, carry out deposit and withdrawals to their wallet, as well as handle mobile money, bank and wallet transfers.
As most people would guess, Zimpost has started promoting this platform by pitching the ZESA payment option which has slowly gained prominence on Zimbabweans’ list of things they’d rather pay for using their phones.
All this is being powered by ICEcash.co.zw, a local e-money platform that, according to its website, handles digital payments and e-commerce transactions for retail services and corporate transactions through a network of 300 agents.
ICEcash has listed Zimpost and NMB as two of its financial services partners which, by virtue of being licenced commercial banks, act as the custodians of the funds it handles.
Good alternative with room for improvement
At a glance, this is a yet another welcome alternative for handling electronic payments. The list of options seems fairly decent, though I’m not yet ready to sing praises for all their convenience before trying all of them out.
All the same, its commendable that Zimpost (it’s is the Post Office, after all) is, at least, looking at the opportunity of mobile money. There’s no need to hard sell its convenience, and the same can be said for every smart integration of e-commerce that it looks set to try.
However, it seems that the service is suffering from a weak, if not non-existent promotion. I’ve always believed that every startup and solution provider that wants to wedge itself somewhere in the hierarchy of Zimbabweans’ payment options has to go all out marketing itself.
There are cultural payment practices and beliefs to disrupt, not to mention bold competitors, like EcoCash and a seemingly steady TeleCash, to rattle. A viral marketing approach on its own won’t work, even if you have ZESA in the bag.
I visited one residential post office to deposit money into my wallet and was disappointed when I had to show the team there the new service that their company had just launched. I was referred to the Main Post Office, where it seems this online service is being coordinated from. It hardly looks like Zimpost has an aggressive promotional plan in place.
That’s not all, though. I wonder why ICEcash was brought in. Unless Zimpost has a stake in this concern (we still haven’t gotten a response from them yet) there’s no reason why the postal services entity brought them onboard. Couldn’t they have made their own platform outright?
Even if there’s a tech talent deficiency internally there are tenders for this sort of thing. Such an approach also brings in other ideas that can help to create a more rounded solution.
As a company with literally a post (hold the pun) in every part of Zimbabwe, an integrated platform for all things payments can make a huge impression. Let’s not forget the other advantage Zimpost has through the scores of users outside urban areas that still turn to the Post Office as their main centre for communication.
With its own platform, the options for service integration with other state-owned entities and quasi-government institutions (municipalities, financial houses, remote area service providers etc) would be easier to negotiate.
This would have given the Zimpost mobile payment platform enough juice to become the poster child alternative for “State powered” mobile money and e-commerce, a title that NetOne’s OneWallet seems to be fickle of.
Anyway, it’s still early days. This Zimpost alternative will likely have a lot to bring to the table.