While it was initially conceived as a way to send and receive money, Ecocash has become the unofficial currency of Zimbabwe. They might be calling them RTGS dollars but Ecocash is the best way to move these dollars. ZIPIT is a distant second but it is no less useful. The truth of the matter is that no many people would actually use RTGS to make and receive payments.
There are two universally known reasons for this:
- RTGS is expensive-it costs a whopping $5 now (used to be more) to move money for each transaction you make even if it’s for $1. Mthuli Ncube’s 2% is not a relevant cost here as you will have to pay it even if you use Ecocash or ZIPIT
- RTGS deposits take a lot of hours to reflect as there is nothing real time about them despite the name. That sucks big time.
Everyone, especially banks, knows all these things. Which makes it strange that Standard Chartered has, in essence, forced it’s account holders to use RTGS. One of the reasons why I have simply abandoned my account.
Standard Chartered partially linked to ZIPIT and Ecocash
For a long time, StanChart was not linked to Ecocash and you could only make ZIPIT payments and not receive them. Then that changed at some point and I was thrilled. I received an SMS on my phone telling me that all accounts would be automatically linked to Ecocash allowing for full integration. Finally, I thought.
Also at some point, ZIPIT receipts were made possible allowing me to receive ZIPIT payments into my bank account. To reiterate ZIPIT and Ecocash are just an everyday part of Zimbabwean lives in as much as checks (sic) and credit cards are part of say the American domestic bill life.
To clarify during this time I could make and receive ZIPIT payments using my StanChart account. I could do Wallet-to-Bank and Bank-to-Wallet transactions on the same account using Ecocash. Those were beautiful months which meant me using one account and ignoring all those other lite accounts.
Alas, that was short lived. Sometime in midst of last year, StanChart started having “challenges” on their platform. These challenges manifested themselves in a strange way: ZIPIT receipts and Wallet-to-Bank transactions were no longer possible. In the meantime, you could still make ZIPIT payments and do Bank-to-Wallet transactions. In other words, it was back to square one. If you wanted to receive payments into your account you had to rely on RTGS.
For a long time, I would visit the help desk whenever I could but the story was always the same: some guys somewhere were working flat out to make sure full service was restored. Many moons later StanChart is still having these challenges.
I am starting to doubt these system challenges are real. To be certain I do not have any proof of this but hear me out: A bank of the calibre of StanChart, if there to put their minds to it can certainly marshal ICT resources that would dwarf any of the locally based banks we have who have Ecocash and ZIPIT fully working. That much is certain.
Even if the challenges are real it means nobody is working flat out to make sure full service is restored. If there is such a person they deserve an incompetence award of some sort, because that’s what they are incompetent. Personally, the distinct impression I get is that StanChart is not very enthusiastic about these missing services at all so they are quite happy to leave things as they are.
The person who ends up losing here is the customer-me and you. That is very sad. Right now a StanChart account if we are being frank is not very useful, at least not to me. After you receive your salary in it all you can do are payments. If you want to receive a payment you have to wait for days.
Dear StanChart, you can do better than this! So, do better. In the meantime, as a small gesture of my disapproval, I will let my account fallow as I have been doing for the past number of months.