It’s been a little over a month since we crossed the threshold of interoperability. We can now send money from an EcoCash wallet directly to OneMoney, Telecash and bank accounts directly. This, at least to me seemed like we were heading to an era where EcoCash would slowly be dethroned as the mobile money King/Queen of Zimbabwe. I fully expected OneMoney and Telecash, to make a major push to eat up some of EcoCash’s market share.
This, however, hasn’t been the case, at least from my perspective. The other mobile money players have been relatively silent on any measure to increase their relevance. In fact, it is the incumbent EcoCash that has done more to nudge customers to keep transacting on their platform.
When EcoCash launched their rewards program I was not at all impressed by it. It seemed like a hail Mary attempt to make a case for themselves in the new era we were walking into.
My views on the rewards scheme were absolutely wrong because EcoCash were offering people a chance to win something simply by transacting. This was, in retrospect, a masterstroke because everyone wants the chance to compete for something. That hook for a competition sinks even deeper when the means of entry is simply using something for it’s intended purpose.
Buying airtime, using EcoCash at a shop or making a transfer gave every subscriber points that they could collect towards a possible pay-out. EcoCash also did well by staying away from a grand draw, that would have been immensely complicated and time consuming.
The redeem what you have earned way, I think, is better. Even if it’s a little its at the very least something. What it does, in my opinion, is get more people using their EcoCash wallets to transact. The incentive becomes winning something greater than the last time and the only way to do that is to keep using your Ecocash wallet.
However, the EcoCash rewards system isn’t perfect. There are a couple of things that can be changed. The first is for subscribers to redeem the points themselves using *151*300#. At present customers will get a message at some point in the following week after the end of the month telling them what they have won.
If customers were allowed to redeem their points whenever they crossed the 25 point threshold then it’s more flexible. The second thing adds to the first, customers should be able to redeem their points at any time. If you have amassed a lot of points you should be able to redeem them when you chose.
That adds even more flexibility because you know that you’ll get a little something back whenever you want.
The first place to start would be POTRAZ’s Sector Performance report for Q2 2020. Telecash lost 34% of its subscriber base from Q1, going from 52 564 to 34 689. On the other hand, OneMoney made a substantial jump, from 555 255 to 892 963 active subscribers. To put in perspective they are both still miles away from EcoCash which lost 7.6% of its subscribers but sits comfortably at the top with 6 530 000 active subscribers.
Now it should be noted that these subscriber numbers for all three MNOs will come down because the Monetary Policy Statement said that individuals can only have one mobile money wallet.
Even though the fortunes of OneMoney and Telecash differ, they could both stand to benefit from offering something to entice customers to use their services. That being said they don’t have to follow the EcoCash model and offer loyalty points. There are other ways that they can improvise.
In the current economic situation that we are dealing with, credit is an interesting proposition. The money on offer won’t have to be a massive amount, maybe in the region of ZWL$50 – 300. Potential customers would get this money when they sign up for a OneMoney or Telecash wallet.
This isn’t a totally new idea because most mobile operators at some point offered free airtime. Granted the sums we are talking about are larger, but for either MNO to move the needle, it might be a risk worth taking.
Getting customers to recruit other customers is another way that Telecash and OneMoney can attract more subscribers. The only way to make it effective is to offer something in return for the individual(s) your customers bring and that’s through money.
This could be by way of airtime or crediting the customer’s wallet. I don’t quite have a figure for this kind of program but some money is better than none. Another way to do this could be through airtime discounts like the one OneMoney already offers. Instead of 20%, a customer could get 25% or more for getting someone else to register with the service.
On the Telecash and OneMoney side of things, they have to ensure that their service is something worth coming to. That means increasing the number of shops and merchants that accept OneMoney and Telecash, as well as keeping the favourable rates they are offering.