EcoCash creates ‘parallel payment system’

By Alfonce Mbizwo, Harare, Zimbabwe

Businesses that accept payment in EcoCash are now able to exchange it for cash at Econet Wireless Zimbabwe approved banks, the company said today, creating a parallel payment system in a country that relies on foreign money.

Zimbabwe, whose inflation peaked at 500 billion percent in December 2008, abandoned use of the Zimbabwe dollar after the hyperinflation rendered it worthless, and now mostly uses the US dollar and South African rand. 

Money transfers ventures abound, but EcoCash, powered by Zimbabwe’s largest mobile service provider, is the most popular, with 1.7 million registered users.

Econet said hundreds of companies have already signed agreements to take EcoCash payments instead of cash payments, which they can redeem at TN Bank.

Other banks were expected to offer the service within two weeks.

"We are working to get all banks on board by the end of October," said Darlington Mandivenga, a senior executive at the company.

Already, more than 200 commuter omnibus (kombi) operators have also started to accept EcoCash for transport payments.

The service, which began a week ago, has proved very popular and Econet plans to have the majority of kombis accepting EcoCash payments before the end of the month.

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