By Francis Chiwunda
So Strive Masiyiwa recently responded to the raging debate on EcoCash agents charging premiums when people cash out of their mobile wallets. I don’t agree with his reaction to this issue and here are my thoughts:
A friend said this and I sort of agree with him,
This is how monopolies fall; they become arrogant and forget to innovate. Ecocash controls a lot of things and being willfully dismissive of the profiteering from agents is disingenuous.”
I also think Strive statements are ill-informed and reckless.
1 – He says EcoCash is not a currency : although I agree with him there but he should comprehend that in Zim, EcoCash is a pseudo currency. Just to remind you, our currency is called RTGS. RTGS is a money transfer mechanism – just like EcoCash. But guess what, that’s the name of our currency. Maybe we can excuse the guy, these are just side effects of running a company through zoom video conferencing app!
2 – He keeps saying where in the world would you find banks not issuing notes etc etc. : I think that’s unfair of him to say that. See a few questions I have for him as of year 2007:
- where in the world do you transact using mobile number?
- where in the world do you find poor population transacting digitally without internet?
My point is what we have is a unique situation. If strive saw a unique opportunity back then and jumped on it and made tonnes and tonnes of money through it. He shouldn’t be asking us of unique situations today. He’s being a hypocrite! The “where in the world” card is complete BS!
3 – He says you can’t dig up a road because a thief has set on it: I don’t necessarily think the Gvt expects him to dig out ecocash. But all we ask for is close monitoring and taking responsibility where things go wrong. That’s why there are road blocks, no?
Other points to note
I think main issue with EcoCash is that our population is generally poor. And the harsh economy is not helping at all. So for poor folk the 30c transaction cost per $5 actually matters. It makes a difference! As a population, we’ve been ducking the 30c so hard but we’ve been hit by $6 instead – how painful!
Is this really about cash supply into the economy? Not entirely! I think it’s partly transaction costs ( not forgetting the 2% tax), greedy population which feeds on profiteering as well as arrogant monopolies. Oh, not forgetting the zoom app guy!
But one may say, ” oh but it’s on a willing seller willing buyer basis.” They may argue that it’s market forces. Well, drugs are also on a willing buyer willing seller basis, but tikakubata tino dealer newe (if we catch you we will deal with you)!
1- Strive shouldn’t be arrogant. He should stop throwing tantrums, we’re not his buddies! He should realise that his platform is being abused and take strong corrective measures.
2- Government should scrap regressive tax systems. EcoCash transaction cost should be lowered to bare minimum. Then rely on volumes, they have the market dominance anyways!
3- Zimbabwean population should stop this profiteering mindset. This platform is meant to make life easier not over complicating stuff… Now I can’t even send my grandma kwaZvimba mari yechema! It’s regressive.
As a fan of fintech and general innovation myself, I think as a society we should be ready to deal with the aftermath of innovation. Uber and AirBnB constantly deal with rape and racism issues etc.
Innovation is good but it gives birth to unique situations. It’s a pity even those who claim to be “Rockstar” entrepreneurs don’t seem to understand that fact!