It is difficult to imagine Ecocash being dethroned from the mobile money throne in Zimbabwe. Every time a stastic about mobile money or payments in general is given the situation seems hopeless for the competition.
Make no mistake, Ecocash are not where they are by accident. They were not first or second with mobile money in Zimbabwe but once they launched their brand became synonymous with mobile money. Seven years later and their position is much more consolidated.
This was achieved very deliberately and they are still making very deliberate decisions to become way more than we see right now. In fact, if the Ecocash strategy interests you can buy the easy to read Techzim Insights’analysis of the Ecocash journey from before they launched all the way to the future of this product/business.
The analysis is of interest to people in the payments space, tech, entrepreneurs and project teams tasked with launching a new product or improving an existing one. Of course anyone who wants to learn the new business strategies of the digital era will find value too. Anyway, back to it:
The race may not be over
Mobile money is still growing in Zimbabwe and the time for service providers to position themselves is right now whilst we still have the cash problems and currency issues we have. This is why OneMoney and Telecash have to be re-imagined and put into the ring more decisively. The fight is not yet over.
Copy is not a dirty word
Strive Masiyiwa himself talks about being a fast follower. When you look at the innovations that have really mattered for his business empire you realise that none of them were original. Original is overrated. There can only be one original TV, car, aircraft…. The original is just of historical significance otherwise the follow up makers of TVs, cars, aircraft… are making lots of money right now: imitators of imitators of imitators…
Telecash and OneMoney should copy Ecocash in allowing non subscribers of Telecel and NetOne respectively to register for the mobile money service. By doing that they will pre-empt the Ecocash sting and take the competition question away from network effects to service offerings.
Why is this important?
The move by Ecocash to make their services available to non Econet subscribers has revealed the true definition of what mobile money is. Analysis of Ecocash right from the launch shows you that from the onset, Strive Masiyiwa knew that Ecocash was not merely a mobile money service for his MNO. That lesson was lost on the competition.
Yes, initially Econet took advantage of Ecocash to lure customers to their network but Ecocash was always independent. That was the most crucial decision. Now that Ecocash has saturated more or less their parent company’s subscribers the only way to grow is to have those subscribers transact more and use their service more as well as to register non Econet subscribers. They have started with that now.
Telecash and NetOne should quickly allow registration of non subscribers to their respective MNO’s and then promote their services like crazy.
How did Ecocash recruit customers at the beginning again? They gave every new customer a dollar! That is the scale of things their competition has to do once they allow anyone to register. Give someone who has an Econet line a strong reason to register for OneMoney for example.
OneMoney and Telecash should go beyond what Ecocash has done. They should allow a non subscriber to access their services without the need for internet connection as is the case with Ecocash right now. How do they do this? I don’t know but they can figure it out. I have fuzzy ideas in my head, I am sure they can come up with even better.
Continuing to define mobile money in MNO terms and tying down the service to the enterprise is futile if NetOne and Telecel want to entertain the idea of a comeback.
Ecocash has just launched the Chakachaya ne Ecocash promotion for the second edition running. Unfortunately for NetOne and Telecel the new reality this time around is that this promotion is now directly targeting their subscribers as well becuase their subscribers can be Ecocash customers as long as they have a smart phone. The only way to fight back is to throw exactly the same punch.
Will Telecel and NetOne do it?
They probably won’t. Most times business decisions are made emotionally from a position of pride. This is the one time that human nature has to be challenged and subdued. As Nike aptly puts it: Just do it!
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