Econet to launch mobile money

By Alfonce Mbizwo, Harare, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s largest mobile operator, Econet Wireless, will at end of the month launch a mobile payment system that makes it possible for Zimbabweans to pay bills using their cellphones.

The company said it had spent millions of dollars on developing the system, which will be launched to its over 5 million customers, completely eliminating the need for any notes for purchases below USD20.

Econet has been working for more than a year on developing the system, which will basically turn a cell phone into a ‘wallet’. But the system only work between Econet subscribers.

“With a critical shortage of US dollar notes, the Econet system will completely eliminate the need for any notes for purchases below USD20,” the company spokesman, Ranga Mberi, said in a statement.

Earler, state-owned mobile operator NetOne and Orascom’s Zimbabwean unit, Telecel, launched similar programmes called OneWallet and Skwama respectively.

But Mberi said the key difference was Econet’s size and capacity, adding that the company had entered into partnership with key retailers, banks, and dealers nationwide.

“It is a massive system, and will completely transform the way Zimbabweans buy and sell goods,” he said.

Econet is expected to announce, also at the end of the month, that it has crossed 6 million customers, which means that almost half the population has an Econet line, giving leverage to its new service because of economies of scale.

 “Construction of the whole system is now complete and the company is now ready to go,” said Mberi.

“It is currently being tested with key customers on a pilot phase, and will go live to over 5 million Econet customers by the end of this month.”

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