Zimbabwe and regional technology news and updates

Agribank CEO, Sam Malaba, encourages banks to integrate with EcoCash

Agribank has become the latest Zimbabwean bank to integrate with the EcoCash mobile money transfer system. The announcement was made today at a press conference jointly held by the bank and Econet Wireless today in Harare. The integration is basically the same as that which Econet has secured with 3 banks so far i.e. to allow EcoCash customers to transfer money between their Agribank account and their EcoCash wallet, and the ability to do that even when they are out of the country.

Econet on EcoCash open access: “Hey banks, here’s the deal…”

Yesterday, Econet made an announcement via a release to assure the market that issues (these, issues) have been resolved with “virtually all banks” and that if everything works according to plan, all banks that want to be connected to EcoCash, would be integrated by end of March 2013. According to the release Econet is apparently responding to fears by some financial institutions that they’ll lose customer to EcoCash integrated banks.

Econet hires BankservAfrica boss for new EcoCash CEO position

Just a week after announcing the hire of former FNB executive to head its newly acquired bank, Econet disclosed today (somewhat inadvertently) the hire of another banker, Cuthbert Tembedza, to fill a newly created position of EcoCash CEO.

Press Release: Telecel offers contract packages with bonus benefits

Telecel has introduced a new fixed payment platform and is offering existing and potential customers new attractive fixed payment contract packages that allow unlimited local calls and bonus text messages and data.

Econet appoints SA Banker as new TN Bank CEO

We just received a statement from Econet announcing the appointment of South Africa banker, Kwanele Ngwenya, as CEO of it’s newly acquired financial institution, TN Bank. Ngwenya was Director of Commercial Segment at First National Bank’s (FNB) Botswana operation.

Econet accuses CABS, ZimSwitch & Kevin Terry of trying to frustrate EcoCash

Press releases are usually filled with exaggerated self-praise and sometimes some subdued remarks subtly attacking the competition. Not with today’s press release from Econet Wireless which we posted earlier. The company has fired a salvo at CABS, ZimSwitch and Kevin Terry accusing them of using the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe to fight the EcoCash mobile money service.

Press Release: EcoCash open to every bank in Zimbabwe

A senior Econet Wireless executive, Mr Darlington Mandivenga, who is responsible for the rollout of EcoCash, has dismissed a claim reportedly made by Bankers Association of Zimbabwe’s immediate past president, Mr John Mushayavanhu, stating that Econet has denied banks access to its platform for integration.

Zim mobile operators directed to reduce mobile money transaction fees

The constant complaint with mobile money services locally (EcoCash really) is that it’s expensive to use. Since launch. They reviewed the transaction fees downwards once, a few weeks after launch, but EcoCash remained the most expensive mobile money transfer service in Zimbabwe. So yes, we mourned a lot about it every time we got a chance. Those prayers are about to be answered.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to establish mobile money regulation

The Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), Gideon Gono, announced yesterday the introduction of a deliberate legal and regulatory framework for Mobile Financial Services. The announcement was made as part of the Monetary Policy Statement presentation.

Econet mobile money subscribers to buy stocks on the ZSE using EcoCash

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has just announced that shortly it will be possible for “small” investors to use its EcoCash mobile money service to buy stocks on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. The service, according to the announcement is targeted at investors buying stock of less than $5,000.

Local developer builds an EcoCash agent locator app

Despite EcoCash being quite expensive to use (especially for the larger amounts) there’s always that time when it’s really the only option. Time of day, your location and the situation’s urgency all conspire to get you to EcoCash someone.

CABS starts accepting internet merchants as Vpayments goes live

CABS, one of the 6 local financial institutions that have been piloting the Zimswitch Vpayments online payments platform, is now rolling out the service to merchants after getting approval from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

Intel & Safaricom introduce low cost android smartphone in Kenya

Intel and Kenya’s largest mobile operator, Safaricom, announced yesterday the introduction of a low cost Android smartphone in Kenya. Called Yolo, the entry level phone will cost 10,999 Kenyan Shillings (about US $127). Like recent offerings by competitors in emerging markets, the phone is dual SIM.

CABS’s mobile money (& cards) doing 250,000 transactions a month

We held an interview recently with CABS Managing Director Kevin Terry in which talked at length about the company’s development of its mobile money product Textacash.

5 tech initiatives we would love to see in Zimbabwe in 2013

Open data would enable accountability: it is difficult to conceal something if the facts are there for all to see. Not only will it result in transparency, just Data alone in the right hands is a powerful resource for our national economic and social development. It’s also an incredible opportunity for local talent to build locally relevant tech solutions, a very huge gap currently.

FootballZone releases its first football app: AFCON 2013

Local Football updates startup, FootballZone, has announced the launch of its Afcon mobile app that went live in the Nokia Ovi Store last week. According to FootballZone cofounder, Godwin Chiparaushe, soccer fans in Africa will be able to follow the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations on their phones via the app.

TN Bank to finance smartphones and tablets for Econet subscribers

When Econet made moves to acquire TN Bank last year, they made it clear it was to push adoption of their EcoCash mobile money service. But there are more benefits to owning a financial institution than just driving mobile money adoption; Econet announced today that one of those benefits, and indeed one of the reasons it acquired the bank, was to have it finance smartphone deals for Econet subscribers.

Mobile Money: Zim banks moan about unfair competition from mobile operators

A report today by financial news and analysis service FinX says the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe have proposed that mobile money services be included in new banking reforms for the country. This, the bankers say, would create a level playing field in an sector facing significant disruption from mobile phone operators.

Press Release: EcoCash now in OK Zimbabwe Limited stores

Zimbabwe’s largest supermarket chain, OK Zimbabwe Limited, has become the first major retailer to be connected to EcoCash, Econet Wireless’ mobile money service. OK has assumed an EcoCash “Super-Agent” status, and will be performing agent services for EcoCash throughout its branches across the country. Under this partnership, every OK outlet will now register customers for EcoCash and also perform cashing in and cashing out functions for EcoCash.

biNu adds EcoCash to its credits payment options

In a story title “More problems for regular SMS: biNu credits now available locally” that we posted here a few weeks ago, we expressed our delight that biNu credits were now available locally. The Australian based company (which now has representatives locally) had just announced that its 200,000 Zimbabwean users could now buy its platform’s currency at Easi and YoTime

Is starting a tech startup just too costly for us?

I usually argue on the side of “lack of funding is just an excuse”. If you work hard enough, if you’re solving a real problem, if you’re passionate enough, if you think outside the box etc… But sometimes I wonder if the problem is lack of funding, or if it’s more an issue of young people having so much more to lose if they decide to take the startup route and its high risks. More to lose compared to their counterparts in, say, Europe, the US or Cape Town.

TN Bank becomes Econet subsidiary as Nyambirai sells stake

Tawanda Nyambirai, Lifestyle Holdings CEO and Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Chairman, announced today that he has accepted an offer from Econet Wireless to buy him out of TN bank. Speaking at a press briefing today Nyambirai said he will be selling his stake in the bank he founded in exchange for shareholding in Econet Wireless. As a result of the transaction Nyambirai said he will be stepping down as chairman of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe to become a director on the board of the parent company Econet Wireless Group.

Econet connects EcoCash to its banking company, TN Bank

Yesterday, Econet published in an advert the announcement that the industry knew would come sooner or later. The mobile operator has now integrated EcoCash, its mobile money transfer service, to TN Bank, the bank it acquired earlier this year. The development means TN bank customers that use EcoCash will be able to transfer money from the bank accounts to their EcoCash wallets and vice versa.

While Zimswitch waits, Econet chooses to partner banks directly with EcoCash

Today we attended a press briefing where Econet Wireless Zimbabwe and CBZ Bank were announced a new mobile banking partnership. The partnership basically entails that EcoCash subscribers who bank with CBZ can now move money between their EcoCash mobile money wallet and their traditional bank account from their mobile phones. Users of the service can also check the bank balance and get a mini statement all via EcoCash.

Vpayments may not be for everyone

When mobile payments were introduced in Zimbabwe, I thought here is the chance for me to sell my book to Zimbabweans who do not have Visa cards, MasterCards etc. I made my first call to Big Bank in November of 2011 and asked them about accepting payments via their mobile money transfer solution. I was told it was Ok.

Sponsor Profile: EcoCash

The ePayments Forum is a platform of common interest that seeks to bring together stakeholders in the plastic money, mobile money, and internet banking sector (collectively known as ePayments). The inaugural event is organised by Techzim events through the valued support of sponsorship partners:

Econet subsidizes kombi fares for EcoCash users

In an apparent move to attract subscribers to use its EcoCash mobile payment service, Econet announced this week that for a week they’ll subsidize the kombi* fare by US 25 cents for people paying via EcoCash. For some users of EcoCash this means as much as half of the fare will be paid by Econet just for using their platform.

Everything you need to know about Zimswitch’s Vpayments gateway

Zimswitch, a national switching company recently introduced an internet payment gateway service called Vpayments. Being a financial switch basically means they provider interconnection between their member banks. Zimswitch member banks account for about 95% of the 1.5 million banked population in Zimbabwe. After hyperinflation and dollarisation, many Zimbabweans moved away from the banks, but now they are moving back, with the number of banked individuals holding a bank account expected to exceed 3 million by the end of 2013.

Announcing Zimbabwe’s first ePayments Forum

Convenient payment options are a critical and often cited sticking point for commercial and economic development. Numerous discussions have taken place around the need for increased electronic payment methods as a means to overcome time, socio-economic, and logistical constraints amongst others.

University student develops EcoCash internet payments proof of concept

One of the things that came out of the EcoCash tour that we were part of recently was that internet payments are not near the top of their priority list in terms of the roll out of payments. Understandably so actually; there are bigger, immediate and bankable needs to address away from the web. Needless […]