Categories: Mobile Money

Why can’t we convert airtime to money in an EcoCash wallet?

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Converting airtime to money in an EcoCash wallet might be a transaction that not many people need. It’s something that I only recently lacked when I accidentally bought too much airtime and I called customer services to see if there was a way I could reverse the transaction. I was told that when it’s airtime there is no way of getting it back unless I find someone to send the airtime to, and they can pay me via EcoCash.

Now, I wouldn’t have written on the subject if EcoCash didn’t allow this type of transaction to happen in the territories that it operates (we’ll come back to this point).

Ok, to be honest, I would have talked about it because we need as much financial freedom as possible. The airtime that is in our phones is still money and we should be able to use it not only to buy bundles or to use for a call. If you have an EcoCash wallet you should be able to revert whatever airtime that you have back into money that you can use for anything else.

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In Lesotho, you can move airtime back to an EcoCash wallet

So… earlier on I said that I wouldn’t be writing about this if moving airtime into an EcoCash wallet wasn’t possible in any other territory that the mobile money operator is in. Well it appears that it is possible in Lesotho, in a report by the Lesotho Times, users in the country have an airtime to EcoCash option.

The conditions are that the airtime can only be moved into their own EcoCash wallet regardless of where it came from. You can’t send the airtime into anyone else’s EcoCash wallet and of course, you are charged for the conversion.

Even with the charges, this could be very useful

Airtime to EcoCash conversion could be very useful especially when you are in a bind. Imagine you are in a store and you are trying to buy something but you are short a small amount and you have that sum or more in airtime. You could quickly convert that airtime and then be able to complete the transaction. Sometimes it’s a case of having enough for a purchase but you dont have enough to meet the transaction charge.

You could like I did, have accidentally entered a higher value than you intended and you want to send some of that money back to your EcoCash wallet. Customers shouldn’t have to start looking for someone to offload the excess to.

The last thing is that airtime expires. I can’t say I have ever been in a situation where I have had more airtime than I could spend. But there are people out there who get a lot of airtime for work and they might not be able to finish it. This means that whatever balance remained is simply lost.

On EcoCash’s end of things, this is another way they can generate revenue. Like in Lesotho they can tag a charge for the conversion. That said it might not be much but it’s something and with the mobile money restrictions I can imagine every penny counts.


Quick NetOne, Econet, And Telecel Airtime Recharge

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  • Whoever you talked to on the customer services didn't tell you the truth since airtime can be reversed if it was bought in excess.

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    • True, it's reversible as long as it came originally from Ecocash. I think it's airtime originating from other non-Ecocash sources which cannot be moved into the wallet. Might it be a legislative issue though, since Econet would effectively be 'creating' money from 'non-money'?

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  • Ideally, if you buy airtime or any other product (digital or otherwise) by mistake, you should just be able to reverse the transaction.

    Asking that airtime be converted to EcoCash is just more complicated:
    1. A person can exceed their EcoCash transfer limit and buy someone airtime instead, with the intention of it being liquidated.
    2. Will this apply to other payment methods? You can also buy the wrong amount of airtime via other methods such as mobile banking. Remember that you can buy yourself airtime, but not be an EcoCash user/member and should not be penalised for that as a consumer.
    3. If the primary reason for this is "mistakes" made by users, is it not better to ask for an additional confirmation screen than add a feature just because "Lesotho has it".
    4. What about other Econet related products? Should I be able to convert my "accidental" ZOL balance back to EcoCash, when I feel like it (need to, I mean)?

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Published by
Valentine Muhamba

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