Powertel one of Zimbabwe’s Internet Access Providers (IAP) has launched a payment service known as Dial-A-Payment. You remember Powertel don’t you? They used to be leading mobile internet service providers until they found ruin in a case of corporate greed when they switched from monthly based packages to bundles. I wrote their epitaph back then. They have sort of persevered in the background and Dial-a-Payment is their latest shot.
I have to say right out of the gate when I heard about Dial-a-Payment I was quite excited-that excitement evaporated quickly as I read about the product. Words like baffled, perplexed and mystified come to mind. The service is eccentric, to say the least. Here is how it works according to Powertel:
- Call in to any of our retail outlets any day, Monday-Friday from 08:00-16:30 hours excluding holidays
- Confirm the service or package you require
- Receive a prompt on your phone to pay via Ecocash
- Enter your MPin and Pay
- Receive Payment confirmation. Receipt or Electricity Toke.
Powertel goes on to list the numbers to call. You can see them above. I told you this was an eccentric solution. You and I are supposed to use this service to pay our bills, top-up our internet, data, voice and buy electricity tokens. It’s not clear what bills you can pay but I am really struggling to be polite here but in what world is this a great solution? I am struggling to see the use cases here. Maybe I am just stupid.
Why is this better than what we already have
I am not going to compare this to our own offering, Techzim Market. That would be unfair. Let us imagine you are a Powertel customer who doesn’t already know about Techzim Market. Do you really need this? The answer from me is a resounding no.
You can pay a lot of bills using Ecocash, you can already buy a ZESA token via Ecocash why bother to call someone and ask them to initiate the transaction for you? That’s highly insecure. All you have to do as a scammer is trick people to call you pretending you are Powertel and make them pay-literary.
You can also pay Powertel internet, buy their data and voice bundles using Ecocash. You can do this any time of the day. This is an existing Powertel system by the way. You can use it during holidays and whenever you feel like it. So again why on earth would you call someone?
Did Powertel forget they are an IAP?
Remember what I said in the opening paragraph, Powertel is an IAP. They have Fibre in addition to mobile bandwith. They were one of the first players in the industry. A WhatsApp based bill payment system would have been awesome and they do have the resources to pull this off.
I may be wrong and this service is going to explode and become a thing but I stand by my judgement-this service will need a rethink and can do with some improvements. I am being very polite here. If I wasn’t well-raised I would call this a dud.
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