Zimbabwe’s mobile money industry just got more competitive with the launch of a third new service — Telecel’s new Telecash — which will go head-to-head with Econet, the country’s dominant provider, ITWebAfrica reports.
All three mobile operators in Zimbabwe have mobile money services, according to the report. Zimbabwe’s largest mobile operator Econet — with 8.5 million subscribers — already has EcoCash with 3 million users.
Zimbabwe’s government-run NetOne — with just under 2.5 million subscribers — operates its One Wallet service. NetOne did not disclose the number of its mobile money users, ITWebAfrica reports.
Telecel Zimbabwe, with 2.5 million subscribers, joined the mobile money arena Wednesday by launching Telecash. The launch of Telecash will bring greater competition in the sector, which has until now been dominated by Econet, analysts said.
In addition to the telecom operators, mobile money transfer services in Zimbabwe are also offered by retailer OK Zimbabwe and Zimpost.
“It’s a sector that is growing and broadening. It brings about options for users of such services and will likely force down service fees,” said Zimbabwe economist Johannes Kwangwari.
While EcoCash has grown and expanded to include airtime transfers, bill payments and money transfers, Telecash entered the market in a unique way, ITWebAfrica reports.
Telecash is the first mobile money system to integrate on the Zimswitch platform used by local banks to link their systems. Econet avoided the Zimswitch system, and subsequently run into problems with banks that accuse the biggest telcom in Zimbabwe of refusing
to open up its network for full integration.
Telecash is already integrated with the banks and will allow users to pay for groceries, utility bills, airtime and other goods and services, the company said Wednesday.
Both EcoCash and Telecash are running on the USDD system, which dishes up services using text message technology, ITWebAfrica reports.
But Telecash also plans to allow international transactions. EcoCash said in 2013 it was still working on this aspect of its service. Until Telecash launched, only expat Zimbabweans in South Africa could use international mobile money services via the likes of EcoCash.
Traditional banking services such as corporate bulk payments, salaries, loan disbursements and loan repayments are also being offered by Telecel, according to ITWebAfrica.
“Telecash offers convenience for everyone but in particular offers banking services to people with no previous access to banking and financial services, especially those in the country’s remote areas,” Telecel Mobile financial services director Nkosinathi Ncube said.
But the future isn’t necessarily bright for all the mobile money players in Zimbabwe. Telecel Zimbabwe allegedly failed to comply with the country’s indigenisation laws — which call for international firms to give up 50 percent of their ownership to locals.
Egypt’s Orascom Telecom has a majority stake in Telecel Zimbabwe.
Telecel managed to renew its operating licence after promising the Zimbabwean
government to change its ownership structures. But unless the company deals with this soon, its voice, text, Internet and now mobile money services in Zimbabwe could be
jeopardized, ITWebAfrica reports.