The Ministry of Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security has issued an ultimatum to the Mobile Network Operators to find a way to make all their mobile money platforms work together.
The statement reads:
INTEROPERABILITY OF MOBILE MONEY PLATFORMS
The Ministry of Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security would like to encourage the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), who offer digital financial services, to consider making their services completely interoperable.
We have noted with concern that whilst it is possible to send money to an unregistered customer on another network, the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) platforms for operators are not yet fully integrated hence wallet to wallet funds transfer have not yet been integrated.
The lack of Interoperability of the mobile money platforms of the networks is a major barrier to effective competition and stalls further progress in the development of mobile money services. Interoperability also brings convenience to consumers and the ease of doing business.
In the event that there is no interoperability across all networks by the set date of 1 April 2018, the government will take the appropriate measures to enhance compliance.
The Honourable Minister
Ministry of ICT and Cyber Security
7th Floor Bank Chambers Building
76 Samora Machel Avenue
13 February 2018
Let’s talk interoperability…
Interoperability is the ability of computer systems or software to exchange and make use of information. In essence what this means is that Econet, NetOne, and Telecel are supposed to find a way to make Ecocash, OneMoney (formerly OneWallet) and Telecash work together seamlessly.
The easiest illustration is that customer x will have mobile money they can use on any platform (Ecocash, OneMoney, Telecash…) regardless of which service they signed up for. This will make mobile money simply mobile money and brand becomes nothing more than brand. One customer can then be able to send money from say Ecocash straight into another person’s OneMoney wallet ka1.
Who are the winners and losers?
Telecel and NetOne will probably be overjoyed by this announcement as they stand to benefit most from this move. Telecash and OneMoney are way behind Ecocash in usage but this move means customers may no longer have to flock to Econet solely because of Ecocash in future. With all mobile money platforms working in tandem customers will be able to send money without having to consider whether the receiver is on the same platform.
It will be interesting to hear Econet’s thoughts on this move as they seem to be the only MNO that will be disadvantaged if this ‘interoperability’ does become a thing. Econet had made huge strides and pulled away from Telecel and NetOne when you compare their mobile money platforms.
The fact that Telecel and NetOne are government owned could also mean the government is just doing these two a favor in order to help them catch up to Econet without necessarily putting in the work. Last year OneMoney made losses of 6 million whilst Telecash lost subscribers like no man’s business the year before. The government’s move is a nudge in the right direction for these two ailing products.
The people stand to benefit
Making this work will stand to benefit all Zimbabweans who use mobile phones regardless of which operator they are on. If this gets implemented there will no longer be need for people to have two lines, one for Ecocash and either Telecel or NetOne if you prefer those for other services. Regardless of which network you are on you will be able to send money to another network.
Though I think it is not fair, this move stands to benefit the country as a whole, and thus I think this move should be pursued.
We have reached out to the MNOs to hear their thoughts on this move by the Ministry of ICT and Cyber Security
Let’s keep the conversation going down in the comments below. Tell us what you think of this move and if it should be implemented.