Almost everyday I get a question, whether in my inbox or verbal, from someone wanting to know about making online payments. Whilst being at Techzim I’ve made thousands of dollars in payments during the ‘cash crisis’ so I think I’m in a position to advise a thing or two in this area.
As such, instead of answering everyone anew each time, I thought it better for me to put down the workings of the Ecocash Debit Card MasterCard for all my friends and family to read, but also for our readers to have an appreciation and make better decisions when making payments in Zimbabwe.
Ecocash sell their Debit Card MasterCard for $5. This is a physical card that you can touch and hold. You used to be able to get it from Ecocash agents but they have since stopped that and now you need to present yourself to an Econet shop together with your funds to get one.
This card essentially allows you to make payments while drawing from your Ecocash balance/wallet where it is linked to. If you have no funds in Ecocash, you will not be able to make payments.
You can have a number of cards linked to your wallet (they actually called me in June 2015 and said I was a ‘high value client’ bla bla bla and so they were giving me a free card WITH MY NAME ON IT) though I think you can only link a maximum of 5 to your wallet.
Having multiple cards linked to your wallet is good, in that you can give your elderly relatives the card and have them to make payments without you needing to transfer funds to them (or in the event that they haven’t signed up for Ecocash). This method works best with someone whom you send/give money to regularly.
It worked like a charm for me when sending money to my daughter in Botswana.
Convenience Of Physical Card
The Ecocash Debit MasterCard comes in hand when you get to somewhere where they do not accept Ecocash Merchant (and nowadays Agent) payments. What has proved convenient for me has been the ability to make payments whilst swiping with the Ecocash card.
However, note that every time you swipe with your card it counts towards your quota of payments that you can make using your MasterCard (more about this in a bit).
Virtual Card Number
For making online payments one needs to buy what is termed a Virtual Card Number (or more popularly a VCN). This card can not be purchased if you have not purchased the physical card (I just found this out recently).
To get the VCN follow the instructions here.
It has a few restrictions however:
- It is valid for 14 days from the date of purchase.
- You can only make 12 transactions with it
- You don’t need your phone to be one when making the payment, but your Ecocash account needs to be funded to cover the payment.
MasterCard Payment ‘Quota’
Ecocash recently reduced the amount of payments that one can make using their MasterCard to $500/month, this is the total amount that one can pay with both the physical card and VCN combined. If you exhaust your quota by making payments through swiping, you will not be able to make online payments with the VCN, though Ecocash will still allow you to purchase the VCN.
The quota of $500 (as of January 2017, it may be reviewed downwardsat anytime) is renewed every 1st of the month.
MasterCard Payment Tips
At Techzim we’ve managed to come up with a few tips based on our use of the product and would love to share them with you to save you time, money and heartaches.
- Try not to use the MasterCard for swiping, make this payment through other bank cards if possible, or have the payment made through the cashiers Ecocash Merchant code.
- If a payment needs to be made, transfer the funds from your Ecocash to your bank and swipe using your bank card. You can see how much it’ll cost here.
- The limitation for the Ecocash MasterCard is on your Ecocash account. However, not many people know that you can have two Ecocash accounts in your name, however on two different sim cards. Visit an Econet shop to have this enabled.
If you have had any of your own experiences do share them in the comments below, of how you’ve managed to get your head around the whole thing.