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How To Buy Shares On Web, Mobile App Or Even With Kambudzi Via USSD On The C Trade Platform

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ZSE website screenshot

The ability to trade on Zimbabwe’s capital markets through digital channels is a great deal. Buying and selling of public company shares has just gone mainstream especially because this can be done using even the most basic of mobile phones without needing to access the internet. In Zimbabwe we call such phones tumbudzi in plural or kambudzi in singular (literally translated small goats/goat and no I don’t know why those phones are goats).

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So, I accessed C Trade on all three channels: web, mobile app and USSD just to check out how things work so I could share here. I got a few people asking me how to trade via C Trade and I hope this article answers that clearly:

Web

Registration

When you access ctrade.co.zw you will clearly see the button that says register, I went for it straight away. The first screen was clear enough, it looks like this:

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C Trade Registration 1

The second screen just collects other generic info and is straight forward too. My gripe with the form on screen 2 was that ‘Telephone Number’ is a required field. This is over and above a field that says ‘Mobile Number.’ Which Zimbabwe did they build this for?

The third screen under registration gave me problems. Tucked in the corner is a field that says ‘Custodian.’ I have no idea what that is! The default entry there was ‘CABS Custodial Services.’ I used the drop down arrow to look at the options available and there were none! The drop down arrow introduced a search field… I didn’t know what on earth I was to search for. I just selected the default and moved on. Here’s how the third screen looks like and I circled the problematic field:

C Trade Registration Screen 3

The above can easily be solved by trader education. My novice knowledge of capital markets tells me that the ‘Custodian’ field is no big deal but this kind of thing results in a lot of user friction. People run away from what they don’t understand. Investment into capital markets is intimidating on it’s own and so is transacting online for a significant number of people. The little C Trade could do is to do away with undefined technical terms.

Logging in

The fourth screen under registration just has a ‘Submit’ button. After clicking on it you are taken to the dash board. Initially I thought I was logged in and when I went for the ‘BUY’ button a pop up to log in showed up. On closer inspection I noticed that written in small font were the words ‘Please log in first’ in two places as I show on the screenshot below:

Unlogged in C Trade dashboard

This was a little annoying for me, I prefer to be asked to log in immediately and not for C Trade to play pretend. The same thing happens when you come back to the online portal when you already have an account. You click ‘Log in to C Trade‘ from the C Trade homepage and you are taken to the dashboard but still you will not be logged in, you have to click ‘Please log in first‘ then the log in pop up shows up. Unnecessary steps right there.

The log in pop up introduces a new term: CDS/ATP Number. I assumed this to be my Chengetadzai Deposit Service Number but I could not guess what ATP means. I am most likely wrong about what CDS means. I am just highlighting how this is an oversight to use undefined terms. I chose to log in using my email:

C Trade Log in

So the CDS/ATP number was sent to me in a welcome email from C Trade. I’m sure the email was sent right after I successfully created an account. However, even the email doesn’t define what this number is. I don’t know if the number will affect me in future if I lose it or anything for that matter. Here’s what I was sent:

C Trade Welcome email details

Anyway, I logged in using my email. Part of the logging in process involves receiving a One Time PIN (OTP) to email for a two factor authentication. I would have preferred if the two factor authentication OTP was sent to mobile via text but yeah you get it via email.

Buying shares

First you have to deposit money into your C Trade ‘wallet.’ I clicked the ‘Deposit’ button and I was asked to choose a payment option. I chose to use EcoCash. I was then taken to the PayNow gateway. I went through the usual PayNow steps. I decided to deposit $2 to see if it works with such small amounts.

I was charged 54c for my efforts! This has to be solved somehow. Small transactions cost too much and if investment is going to be as mainstream as the Securities Exchange Commission of Zimbabwe envisions, it has to be affordable and feel like an investment not a rip off.

After loading my wallet I was ready to buy a few shares. This is what comes up after clicking Buy:

C Trade Buy Order

Some of the terms there should be defined for the novice investor. For example there is the drop down menu under ‘Time in force.’ The options are Good Till Cancelled (GTC), Day Order (DO), Immediate Cancel Order (ICO) and Good Till Day (GTD). These are very simple alternate instructions that could just have been simplified by placing a lil pop up definition.

As you can see you can use C Trade to trade on the Zimbabwe Stock exchange or Finsec. You have to pick a broker. This means C Trade has commoditized stock brokers. The use of brokers is still insisted on simply because the regulations of this sector are still behind technological developments. I just picked a random broker and selected to buy 10 Edgars shares which were valued at $0.60 in total. I selected GTC meaning that my order will remain valid as long as I don’t instruct the broker to cancel it.

The system accepted my order. That was on Thursday 19 July towards close of trading hours. Today is Sunday the 22nd and the order has not yet been fulfilled. I expect early this week I will have my 10 Edgars shares.

Mobile App

The mobile app experience of course starts off from downloading the app itself from Play Store or the App Store or wherever else. I went to the Play Store and the C Trade app has over a thousand downloads. That’s quite decent for Zim standards to have that many in just a few days and especially considering that this is a very specialised space that is probably still considered to be for the elites. I’m happy with the progress thus far.

What I didn’t like were some of the comments I saw in the Play Store. Most complaints were about the app crushing or not accessing the internet or timing out unexpectedly. At that time these were complaints about the current version. I saw some complaints about an earlier version too.

There were some good comments too. I’m not too worried about the bad ones though. The internet economy allows for iteration on the go so keep working on the app C Trade….

I successfully installed the app. There is no big difference between the app experience and the web experience. The two factor authentication on signing in still sends the OTP to email and not via text. I didn’t register a different account on mobile app, just signed into the account I created on the web. The home screen looks like this:

C Trade Mobile app home

Market watch there is just the usual table of all listed counters showing the share price, volumes etc. Analysis will allow you to view the share chart for the counters one at a time.

What disappointed me is that I could not buy using the mobile app. The system notified me that the minimum transaction value was $10. I found that to be strange given that I had just successfully placed an order for $0.60 worth of shares on the web portal. Does that mean the minimum is lower on the web? That’s strange and counter intuitive. If there were different limits you would expect them to be lower on mobile.

USSD Kambudzi

The USSD menu is accessed by dialing *727# across all mobile networks. We managed to go through registration using USSD on all the networks but we found the process to be very tedious. There are more than 20 steps to go through on USSD. And if you make any mistake or delay at any step you have to redo from the top!

My colleague who was attempting USSD using a real kambudzi failed to go through it complaining their fingers were now numb. Remember tumbudzi do not have qwerty keyboards so entering names, addresses etc is not an easy feat.

I have shared the USSD steps using screenshots in a separate article, This one is too long as it is.

However, after registration via USSD we could not buy any shares. The system says this is not available yet.

I also failed to access the account I had created on the web app using USSD. It would ask me for a PIN (which I never set for mobile USSD). After inputing 4 digits it then says “The service *727# is not available at the moment, please try later.” I have been trying for four days. This is on Econet, I don’t know if it’s the same across the networks.

My Thoughts

I think C Trade is a big deal. I believe investing on capital markets should be accessible to everyone. The thing I want to see for trading to really go mainstream is for the platform itself to use less intimidating and strange language. Nothing should be taken for granted. There is nothing fancy really about buying and selling shares, the language has to be less technical. Where it can’t be avoided then definitions should be within reach on the portal.

The USSD menu can be reduced to less steps. Refer to the accompanying article.

Good first step C Trade. Now to you my reader, you don’t have an excuse not to educate yourself about the markets so you can trade using your mobile even kambudzi.

Zimbabwe Stock ExchangePaynowEcoCash

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange is the country's local bourse which has over sixty trading companies listed. The stock company is based in the capital city Harare and has evolved through various stages in its evolution. Read More About Zimbabwe Stock Exchange

Paynow is Zimbabwe's most popular online payments service. The platform is popular for allowing Zimbabweans to pay for things online using Mobile Money (EcoCash and Telecash). Read More About Paynow

EcoCash is a mobile money transfer facility which is run by Econet Wireless Zimbabwe. The facility has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception and is arguably the largest mobile money transfer agent considering the huge sums of transactions that the platform is said... Read More About EcoCash


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25 thoughts on “How To Buy Shares On Web, Mobile App Or Even With Kambudzi Via USSD On The C Trade Platform

    1. Pleasure! I suspect you are one of the people who sent me messages asking questions

  1. Great article Tinashe. Thank you very much for I have for long wanted to understand about this subject and never really found enough information to really understand it but you have broken it down in a manner that left me fully informed now.

  2. By the time you understand, at least, that there is something called a Stock market, let alone think about trading on it, you should at least have a phone that is internet capable, or you are a chancer or not serious about investing. Mobile Access to the internet is now a must, in this modern day.

    1. I couldn’t disagree more Eng Mhlanga. Are you aware that the internet experience is terrible outside Harare? Even for a town as close as Kadoma you start having problems. If my cousin at a village somewhere is interested in participating in the markets, it’s a good thing s/he doesn’t have to wait to have a smartphone. As long as they understand the fundamental principles they should. That is why I was testing this out with $2

    1. At one time it delayed for me too but generally the OTP was coming almost immediately

  3. Good article but why start trading when you have little to no knowledge of the principles?, before you dive in read up on some of the basic principles like” time in force” ,the app is not there to teach you what trading is all about its there to facilitate. Advice people to read up first and gain as much knowledge on the subject at hand. trading is not all rainbows and lollipops and that should be highlighted from the get go.

    1. I hear you, I am a strong advocate for learning basics first. However, some of the terms there are not about the principles of capital market investment, they are just plain technical terms that have just been used by professionals for a long time. Nothing helpful there.

      I did my first trade in 2007 and still I don’t know what some of those words mean

  4. A simple explanation on certain terms without help… Like all other programs… Programs are meant to be user friendly… Trading is not easy but in this country we have to burn money anyway.. This stock market is overvalued and we don’t really have a choice with the rate heading to 2 to 1…. We already losing… All these foreign investors are still trying to pull their money out

    1. I agree, simple explanations would help.

      Yes, shortage of cash and withdrawal limits have caused a bull run. I am not too sure if all the counters are over valued though. I am usually checking the total market capitalisation and comparing it to the total value of asserts declared by the companies and the disparity suggests the counters could be undervalued. BUT this may not mean anything too. Of course a number of the listed companies are doomed especially if Zim opens up for other players to come in

  5. Great comment tinashe …. Total agreement with the above… There’s going to be a greater bull run with this app… Just another route of burning… What’s a poor Zimbabwean to do.. You look at properties and it’s ridiculous… You go the dock market and again over valued.. Some investors are calling for the market to be devalued..I think this time there going to be allot of crying again… Who knew lightening can strike twice

    1. I think one of the ways to check if you are buying real value is to discount for the value of USD versus RTGS balances. Sooner or later, the markets will correct and some will win big and others lose big and probably not much in between

    1. I have just tried and it loaded for me. It does take some time to load so maybe your browser is timing out before it loads

  6. This is a great thing. Can you please bring in the people behind this to explain our concerns. I am in South Africa so is possible for them to link us up via payments systems like Mukuru, EcoCash Diaspora and even our banks from this side. If it is cumbersome to bring in South African banks then we do what we know best by subscribing via EcoCash and revive our Zimbabwean account

    1. I expect we will be having a lot of conversation with the relevant people, will have concrete answers for you.

      As it stands though, you can buy using Visa and MasterCard. I am not sure if they allow registration using bank accounts from outside Zimbabwe. That option is not there on the platform so my assumption is it’s not yet possible

  7. Just to make a follow up on Llodza, it appears you can not progress on the registration process if you don’t have a bank account in Zimbabwe thus stifling the whole process of inclusiveness and capturing the diaspora market. Someone should have thought of the need to be flexible with payment options, because as it stands the C-TRADE is for Zimbabweans domiciled in-country. Urgent and concrete steps should be taken to rectify this anomaly!!

    1. Hey Tee, at the moment they don’t have an iOS app. I actually thought they did!

        1. So, yeah I thought the app was available on all three based on what the website says. Maybe they plan to roll them out soon but the better thing to do would have been to mention that Windows and iOS apps will be coming soon

    1. Thank you very much. I do not take your appreciation for granted.
      So I checked end of day Friday (yesterday) which was more than a week after I placed my order and the shares have not been bought yet. My order is still visible in the order book. I’m not sure what this means. I plan to follow up after the long weekend and I’ll update

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