EcoCash and ZIPIT should know the power they have, these system outages are not acceptable

Leonard Sengere Avatar
EcoCash and ZIPIT outages

Since yesterday EcoCash users have been facing some challenges making payments. EcoCash acknowledged the system problems on Twitter in response to frustrated Twimbos who were asking. It is frustratingly slow to load if it even loads and EcoCash communicated that they are working to resolve the issue, on Twitter. Why not SMSs advising people that the system is down.

Last month ZIPIT, the interbank transfer processor went down for the better part of a day and many were inconvenienced as they could not make payments. ZIPIT later said the outage was due to a planned system upgrade. We found that hard to believe as the banks were clearly clueless to the upgrade. We believe it was ZIPIT trying to save face.

The Zimbabwean government is currently pushing citizens towards plastic money and away from cash. It is no secret that we have a cash crisis in this country and efforts by the government to move people away from transacting in cash have largely worked. As of June this year only 20% of all transactions were in cash, that makes 80% for electronic money transactions.

EcoCash processes well over 90% of all mobile money transactions and ZIPIT processes over 14 million transactions per month. These two services are integral to our lives now. It is with this view that the Minister of ICT’s concerns over EcoCash’s dominance start to make sense.

As we now depend on electronic payment solutions for our everyday lives it is imperative that the systems be reliable. It is not enough to be told ‘we are sorry for the inconvenience caused.’ Sometimes those payments going through is a matter of life and death, like the rumoured soldier who was beaten to death when his payment was slow in going through.

Okay, most times it is not a life and death scenario but it might still be so important that the inconvenience they speak of is really a major setback.

Personally there was a time when I had school fees due and had the money in my EcoCash account and as bad luck would have it, on that due date EcoCash’s services were down and I could not effect my payment. I had to borrow from a friend but I almost failed to find someone with cash just sitting. If I had missed that payment I would have had to wait 6 months to register again. That’s 6 months of my life just wasted.

There is a friend of mine who missed out on a major deal because he failed to transfer money in time. He had to put in a deposit on a hugely discounted item and as it was discounted thus someone else who had cash paid up and poof went the deal. It is in moments like those that one longs for the simple days of cash transactions and explains why some still resist these electronic payment solutions.

Sometimes it is not a huge deal or a deadline that is due but just a simple transactions that need to go through or it gets embarrassing. Imagine you are in a queue in a supermarket and you are so hungry you start nibbling on your pie then you get to the till operator and they tell you that EcoCash is down. Imagine you have no cash with you and imagine the embarrassment.

We understand that no system is so solid it never fails but we can’t be blamed for expecting that. We need ZIPIT, EcoCash and all the other players to guarantee us that they will maintain their systems regularly and when they plan on upgrading those systems that they notify us in advance so that we can make the necessary arrangements. Is it too much to ask?

So ZIPIT and EcoCash if you are listening, we understand that outages are inevitable but when that happens we would appreciate timely communication. When you plan system upgrades ZIPIT we would appreciate it if you followed EcoCash’s example and make sure we know about it beforehand. What we would really appreciate is less of these outages. We believe there is room for improvement.

Like one Twitter user said, ‘If ZIPIT and EcoCash went down on the same day there would be a strike.’ That should never happen.


  1. Mhofu

    Just a correction, this statement *Imagine you are in a queue in a supermarket and you are so hungry you start nibbling on your pie then you get to the till operator and they tell you that ZIPIT is down * is not correct…ZIPIT can not be used to pay for services in a supermarket….it’s jus a transfer facility from one account to the other between banks…..a bit of research into payments would help for a tech mag…

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Thaks for spotting the mistake. It was supposed to be EcoCash. The story is actually a true one where someone ate a pie only to be told that EcoCash was down and they had no cash.

    2. Charles

      But your correction is wrong.The writer was write because he wrote “…..ecocash is down” and not “zipit is down”

      1. Charles

        Sorry the writer was right not write.

    3. Ash

      And he said Ecocash

  2. Fed Up User

    Under which regulatory body/authority does Ecocash fall under if any? Potraz or RBZ? If they have custody of my money, promise a service and are charging for that said service, they must be accountable! When we sign up to use their service we are made to sign their terms and conditions, in the same vein they must be held accountable to offer uptime of a worldwide industry standard be it 99.99% or whatever.

    I have on numerous times experienced problems with Ecocash be it transacting (airtime/data topup) or delayed service whilst paying for goods/services. Sometimes I get so frustrated and screenshot so to have evidence when I call and complain. Their agents are arrogant and always claim their system was never down or didn’t have challenges. The excuse they offer is that “maybe its your fone or your area network”.

    I challenge Techzim to follow this article up with who offers consumers protection and how do we get Ecocash to be held to expected service standards. After all they are not doing this for free and do not pay me any interest holding my money.

    As for Zipit, RBZ should be more engaged as they are encouraging us to use electronic payments instead of cash.

  3. RsTade

    Congratulations to econet they have managed to make ecocash important to the country’s economy as oxygen is to human body. But unlike the air that we breathe it’s not a God given right econet had to lay down the ground work in time and money, yes yes I know the cash shortage has helped things along. But ecocash did not get to be so important to the economy in a vacuum they got there because their parent company is laser focused on profit, by maximising revenue and creating new revenue streams. While Telecel and Netone sadly lacking in direction. In Zimbabwe people tend to forget that Econet basically invented the mobile payment platform in this country , the original idea might have been m-pesa in Kenya but they brought the idea to Zimbabwe marketed it nd implemented it. And when the other MNO’s saw this potentially lucrative new revenue stream they quickly created their own platforms. When ecocash tried to hamper their entry into the market by locking their network of agents in exclusive contracts to ecocash the government stepped in and said that was anticompetitive. And the race was on admittedly the Telecash and Nettcash platforms where half baked compared to the polished product from ecocash but there were some good ideas there for instance Telecash introduced the short code first…. can’t remember what innovative idea Nettcash had. But after a while the race had a clear leader ecocash. And even when they were in an seemingly unassailable lead they continued to to introduce more innovative ideas, ecosure, ecosave etc. And when questions where asked about how the company planned guarantee the deposits in ecosave, Ecocash BOUGHT A BANK. That is commitment. When the cash crisis started they where in a position to capitalise. Is this ideal no it’s a very bad situation, but the country was let down by the way Netone for instance failed to keep up with ecocash.

    1. iTariro

      We don’t need a history lesson on Ecocash, we all know what happened. The article is about Ecocash and ZIPIT system outages. Techzim, I think a follow up on who regulates Ecocash (RBZ/Potraz) would be necessary to assist users know how to hold them accountable in such events.

      1. Anonymous


      2. RsTade

        Go and read those terms and conditions that you barely skimmed through when you signed up for the service and you will realize that you don’t have a leg to stand on. You basically agreed that if things go wrong they are not liable. Econet runs ecocash to make a profit. So they set up their systems to be as reliable up to a point. To set up the systems to totally fail proof would be possible but would require more investment,meaning less profits. And why would any rational profit driven company choose to make less profit when they have control of 90% of the market. That’s idiotic, ecocash is in the position that company CEO’s dream about. Regulations work up to a point, what is needed is a viable alternative when system outages occur and right now there is nothing the government owned Netone and Telecel,are clueless and that is the real problem there is no Plan B. So if Ecocash goes down the whole country grinds to a halt. It’s a disaster waiting to happen but nothing is being done to avoid it

  4. Faiz

    I had a similar experience, wanting to buy building materials on Friday with said company truck passing my town that day so transport charges would be less, coming from out of town trying to pay only having Ecocash and swipe down and continued efforts resulted in an insufficient balance, having to struggle to get fuel to get back boy do I miss convenience of cash society.. the struggle continues.

  5. EcoZipit

    BACKUP Systems / Redundancy..?? Anybody ever heard that word..???

    1. chandagona chii

      surely something is wrong & we deserve some answers from the responsible authourities. I did zipit severals times between standard chartered bank & steward bank the money failed to go through. I feel this is not fair as all banks are suppose to make cashless transactions easier not problamatic & costly

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