Today, we attended the launch for a partnership between EcoCash and ZINARA that introduced a new payment method for tollgate fees that uses EcoCash. At Mazoe tollgate, we saw the system in action and we can confirm that it will take you 15 seconds or less to pay for tollgate fees as they claimed at the launch. Well that is if your account is already set up and the funds are there.
After the launch at Miekles Hotel, we were left with some questions. We got the chance to talk to Natalie Jabangwe (General Manager of EcoCash) about the questions at the demonstration. Here are the questions and the answers we got.
Why did you decide to introduce a different account instead of just using the existing EcoCash wallet of the user?
So that the account is linked to your vehicle and once you pay into that specific account, the money will be allocated just for tollgates. So you actually pre-load it to your ZINARA account. This will allow you to pay for your tollgate fees even if you have no money in your EcoCash wallet.
Will there be any charges once I’m paying for the tollgate fees?
No, so once you put the money in your Tollgate account, only the exact amount that is needed for the fees will be deducted. So it’s just like paying with cash but more convenient and easier since cash is hard to get these days.
At the launch, you mentioned multiple vehicle support. As a fleet manager, can I just give the drivers the EcoCash number to pay for tollgates?
Yes, a fleet manager can register up to 10 vehicles on their Tollgate account. They then just have to top up the account with money enough for the drivers to pay for the tollgate fees. The driver will then just give the number to the Cashier and process the payment.
We also noticed during the live demonstration that the Cashier asked for the EcoCash number and the licence plate of the vehicle. The ZINARA Cashier can view the actual licence plate of the vehicle through the monitors that show a live video from the camera in front of the vehicle. With this information, the Cashier can then verify if the vehicle in the camera and the licence plate given by the driver are the same and also if it is registered with the Tollgate account before processing the transaction.
The system can also capture a picture of the licence plate by recognizing it and then showing it to the Cashier. However, it doesn’t seem to be able to take the licence plate in the picture and then enter it in the system for verification. This means that the process still has a flaw.
The system still relies on a person to verify that the licence plate of the vehicle in front of the camera and the licence plate supplied match. This means that one day if someone is just too tired to do the verification, someone can actually supply the licence plate of another vehicle and the EcoCash number which it is linked to and pass through.
Ultimately, it might not matter because they still get money for a car passing the tollgate but it’s just something we noticed.