Last month Techzim conducted a survey to determine the level and form of usage of the EcoCash USD wallet. The survey was shared mostly with the Techzim community on WhatsApp and social media as well as communities around Techzim related platforms: Pindula and Soccer 24. The response to the survey was quite high at 441 respondents.
In general (and particularly in relation to the Techzim community) these targeted individuals are considered (ummm by us) to be early adopters. Therefore, their usage of products and services could be predictive of future acceptability of the product by the mainstream BUT in some cases these people are just extreme geeks who will try out stuff that (us) normal people will never touch with a 30 meter pole. Anyway, let’s get into the results of the survey:
First: who are these respondents?
The above demographics charts demonstrate that the sample was quite representative except when it comes to gender- Techzim community members please invite more ladies to our platforms, thank you! Education status and employment status shows that indeed this group is likely to be more of the early adopters. That percentage of formal employment is above the 28% of labour force reported by Zimstat for example which we can assume to be some level of privilege in the Zim context.
How have they used EcoCash USD wallet?
Impressive, not impressive?
The annotations to the above charts show that Ruth, Techzim’s head of research was not impressed by the usage numbers. The title to this article shows that I disagree with Ruth. I was not expecting any sort of usage above 10% whether or not the sample consisted of early adopters and experimenters.
18.4% of the respondents claim that they received money into their EcoCash USD wallet at least once before. I am impressed by this number and all the above numbers because I know how we Zimbabweans do not trust formal systems with our money anymore. We have had the central bank and the government change policies on us leaving us holding empty bags and them walking away with our savings several times in just over 10 years. I thought the resounding response to EcoCash USD (yes I know they call it FCA) would be ‘no thank you.’
The sender dictates
The survey shows that the most common transaction is receiving money into the wallet. The other transactions are quite similar in frequency but just below the receiving one. I think this shows that the USD wallet is probably being funded through the choice of people who send money especially those in the diaspora (our survey didn’t explicitly ask where the money was sent from) without perhaps asking the recipients how they would want to receive the money.
My wife has an uncle in the UK who sends money to her parents from time to time. He sends the money to her for onward delivery to the parents. No matter how many times we tell this uncle to use service A or B to do this because it would be more convenient for my wife, he keeps using service C! At some point we threatened that we would not help him anymore with his transactions but he called our bluff and continued to send through service C. Whoever sends the money calls the shots!
Why do they use the Ecocash USD wallet?
Quite surprised by the prevalence of the word affordable when our respondents were asked what they liked about EcoCash USD wallet. The government’s 4% tax has made this service and any other formal service quite pricey. Is it that the informal channels cost even more?
Now the flip side- what sucks about the wallet?
Contradictions, contradictions: now, the most important impediment seems to be fees. Unsurprisingly issues to do with government policy inconsistency and how the formal system is more dangerous than the mattress weigh down on how far people will adopt the EcoCash USD wallet. The curtailing of the EcoCash agent network is obviously a big deal in limiting the usefulness of EcoCash in general and the results show there- this is the government again. Customer support and other service issues given above are solely on EcoCash and they should be wise to pay attention to the expressed sentiment.
EcoCash and other formal players like Innbucks still have a chance as the economy dollarises. Convincing these more tech and finance savvy folks to use their service at this level in so short a time is an impressive feat in my view. They just have to figure out why exactly these people are using the service and work on the reasons given for disliking the service given above and they could again get mainstream adoption.