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Zimbabwe: Mobile Money Transfers - Country Drifts Towards Cashless Economy
Source: The Standard- http://allafrica.com/stories/201206170164.html
Source Date: Sunday, June 17, 2012
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government, Internet Governance
Country: Zimbabwe
Created: Jun 18, 2012

Zimbabwe's financial transacting public has been presented with a plethora of money transfer options, as the country moves towards a cashless economy. Mobile money products on the market include; Kingdom CellCard, ZB Bank's e-Wallet and e-Mali, Econet's EcoCash product, as well as CABS' TextaCash. FBC has joined the bandwagon with Mobile Moola, a new Automated Teller Machine (ATM) card from which one can send money to anyone with a mobile phone on any network. With the card, one can carry out many other banking transactions within the bank, as well as on ZimSwitch enabled ATMs and (point of sale) POS devices. The difference between this mobile service and Econet's EcoCash is the need for a customer to open a bank account, specifically with the bank. FBC Bank Retail Banking and e-Commerce division executive director, Agrippa Mugwagwa said despite the belief that the product is strictly a mobile banking product, Mobile Moola is broad-based, tapping into the banked and unbanked market. "We have rolled out Mobile Moola in its first phase, in which bank customers will get the value addition. The next phase, available in a few weeks, will enable anyone to open a Mobile Moola account using just their ID and mobile number," Mugwagwa said. "Our partnership with the networks gives customers the option of accessing our service through their preferred carrier. Each carrier is free to stipulate the cost of accessing their platform, based on their internal cost structure in providing the channel." It is not clear however, whether network service providers would adhere to the obligation of drawing up charges related to cost structures considering their profit motive, but competition may inevitably dictate prices. Presently, under the Mobile Moola product, Econet subscribers pay US$0,07 for each transaction. However, on the EcoCash platform, a customer faces a 2% charge of the transaction for sending money to a registered EcoCash user, while sending to a non-registered user attracts a 7% charge. Although EcoCash does not charge monthly fixed usage fees, the charges are based on the amount of money transferred, meaning the bigger the transfer, the more a customer pays. the Kingdom Cellcard product however attracts a fixed monthly charge of US$1,30, making it popular with the bank's clientele base. Although depositor confidence is slowly returning to the financial sector since dollarisation in 2009, most people continue to be averse to the idea of saving their money with banks. Estimates state that over US$2 billion is circulating outside the formal system of the economy. CABS' TextaCash is in collaboration with Telecel with the distinct advantage of being linked to one's mobile phone, in order to do balance enquiries and transfers. Clients using the TextaCash product have commended the absence of monthly bank charges, as normal bank cards attract a monthly fee. EcoCash has witnessed a phenomenal uptake ever since its launch last year, as it registered up to one million subscribers in the first six months. Econet chief executive officer, Douglas Mboweni, believes there is no reason why an Econet subscriber should not use EcoCash as this reduces distribution costs. The company's distribution costs presently stand at 10%-12%, but through more increased uptake of EcoCash, these are anticipated to come down to 3%-4%.
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