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Mobile money `popular` in Zimbabwe

By , Journalist
Zimbabwe , 22 Mar 2012

Mobile money `popular` in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe`s biggest telecommunications company, Econet Wireless, says more than one million people have subscribed to its mobile money service.

The telco`s mobile money transfer product, EcoCash, was launched in September 2011.

Econet chief executive Douglas Mboweni says the company is now eyeing the next phase under EcoCash, and this could result in customers being able to pay for utility bills or even buy their groceries.

“This will make an even bigger positive impact on the economy,” Mboweni notes.

The company further adds that EcoCash had enabled the “unbanked” population in the country, who are mostly in rural communities, to participate in the formal financial system.

Econet, however, has not disclosed the value of transactions undertaken by people using its mobile money service.

Harare-based analyst, Johannes Kwangwari, says the company has possibly not disclosed the value of transactions done through EcoCash so far, because the figures could be “insignificant for now”.

Kwangwari adds it is “likely the bulk of these transactions were constituted by mobile airtime transfers”.

Nevertheless, analysts in Zimbabwe say the telecoms operator is taking the mobile money market seriously, as it plans to buy a significant stake in a Zimbabwean bank.

Econet reportedly agreed to pay $20 million for a 49% stake in TN Bank, a move that is widely seen as giving the telco a greater means to expand its mobile money service.

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