The cash crisis in Zimbabwe has been a sore point for just about everyone who’s trying to handle transactions.
If it’s not the frustration of failing to access your money there’s the fact that for all the cashless society talk, sometimes there just aren’t nearly as enough Point of Sale (POS) machines from every retailer. Sometimes the mobile money option isn’t available either.
To act as a solution for some of these challenges a local startup has been investigating the cashless payments opportunity with a local franchise for Zapper – an e-payment solution that allows merchants to provide a QR code payment option for funds.
A user stores his or her card information on their phone where it’s secured via encryption. When they want to pay at a merchant with the Zapper option they just scan the QR code provided for the bill and the funds are deducted instantly.
A few local merchants – typically small retailers in select areas of Harare have already set up the Zapper payment option and customers are being encouraged to try it out in what appears to be an early pilot stage to determine market response.
Zapper is actually best suited for these kinds of businesses, which generally struggle to secure expensive POS hardware from banks. All they need is a light, simple solution that can stand in for the standard swipe option.
When we reached out to the Zapper team the guys there were only able to share the barest of information, pointing out how the work they have done so far is still largely experimental and would require approval from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe first before any details are shared.
Techzim’s own investigation through some merchants with Zapper and the users showed that the pilot version of the system is providing first-time users with a US$2.50 voucher which is expected to encourage repeated use of the platform.
While details of the business model that these guys are using weren’t shared with Techzim, the prompt to use it repeatedly suggests that this service is focused on gathering data on spending habits; information which when collated and analysed effectively can offer valuable insights for marketing and loyalty programmes.
In a market that’s already crowded with guys like EcoCash and Zimswitch, a different business model might actually be the point of difference that works for a smaller payments solution with a niche focus.
If the Zapper Zimbabwe team makes payments cheaper and just as convenient its could just manage to get a foothold and eventually stand out as a good payments alternative.