Prosper Ndlovu, Business Editor
LISTED digital solutions concern, Cassava Smartech, says it would start issuing out hard cash through its Sasai remit agency network across the country, targeting diaspora remittances.
Although the group had a wider network of EcoCash agents, persistent cash shortages and the shift to the local currency last year, had severely crippled the service.
Of late there is a growing interest on the diaspora remittance service and the company now seeks to tap into that lucrative window. The Econet sister company has already set up EcoCash bureaux de change footprint in a bid to harness the foreign exchange business.
Cassava Smartech general manager in charge of international remittances, Mr Shephard Hondoyemoto, said plans were underway to revitalise the EcoCash agent network, which would start issuing out United States dollars to locals receiving money sent from abroad via Sasai remit.
Sasai is Cassava’s new product, a “super all-in-one” innovative mobile app that offers pay, chat, remit, shop and explore features.
“With that influx of people sending (remittances) via Sasai at zero percent to 2,5 percent, we are saying the most important thing is to go back to that model where we are covering every part of the country,” said Mr Hondoyemoto.
“We will set up lots of agents in rural areas to work on remittances. We will put agents where people are and offer a service at arm’s length.
“So, you will see in the next coming couple of days or weeks, those key constituents, those key districts who have agent representation, they will be offering the US-dollars cash not bonds. Every remittance you will get your US-dollar cash.”
Mr Hondoyemoto said the setting up of EcoCash bureaux de change facilities would greatly complement the Sasai remittance feature by giving clients an option to exchange their hard cash for local currency or electronic money at the prevailing rate of the day. Because of limited banking services, rural communities remain disadvantaged and many of them are forced to travel to urban centres at high cost to access their cash. “This is meant to make it easier and convenient for clients,” said Mr Hondoyemoto.
He was responding to questions from the media in Bulawayo as to what the company was doing to assist remote or rural communities to access cash sent from abroad. Cassava Smartech executives were in Bulawayo last week to launch the Sasai app, whose operating system is now integrated to local language — IsiNdebele and Shona as part of its global menu.