Ecocash, Zimbabwe’s leading mobile money service, remains the country’s preferred payment platform due to convenience, efficiency, reliability and wide availability – even in the most remote parts of the country.
This is despite recent restrictive measures imposed on the mobile money systems, leading to Ecocash announcing the abolition of agent lines, restriction of mobile money daily limits to ZWL$5 000, the banning of more than one EcoCash line per individual, and the curbing of bulk payments.
“Ecocash is more than a payment platform. It is a way of life for many Zimbabweans – both the rich and the poor,” said Kevin Moyo (25) a university student, adding that Ecocash should be credited for growing Zimbabwe’s financial services sector.
“Zimbabweans from all walks of life can now send and receive money not only within Zimbabwe but from other countries across the globe as well. It is an innovation which has not left behind even the elderly in society. The simplicity and convenience of Ecocash make it ubiquitous,” he said.
Following the rural-to-urban migration trends decades ago, most Zimbabweans living and working in urban areas started the tradition of sending money to their parents and relatives in rural areas, using bus drivers and other informal means.
However, the introduction of Ecocash in 2011 improved the money transfer process by making it more efficient, trustworthy and convenient. The sender of money on the Ecocash platform receives an alert which creates trust and assurance that the money has been sent.
The receiver also gets an text alert marking the end of the financial transaction. Both happen within seconds, unlike before where the turnaround time was as long as the bus trip, and the suspense and anxiety could break a business or even personal relationships.
Settling medical bills
Money, like most valuable things in life, is emotive and the promise of sending money can help break or build both a business and personal relationships.
Martin Rukwatura, who works at a medical facility in Kotwa, Mutoko, said Ecocash has given their patients the option to pay bills using their preferred payment method.
“Our major clients are the elderly rural folk who constantly come for medical check-ups, and payments are usually done by their relatives in urban areas using EcoCash. Payments are much easier now because relatives can contribute from different areas in the country,” he said.
The father of three said working in a hospital environment had taught him that medical bills are unbudgeted “as people can get ill anytime, but Ecocash is helping to ease the burden”.
Chenai Gurure, a trader in the farming town of Chinhoyi, said Ecocash was playing an important role in society by helping people in their times of need.
Pooling funds for funerals
“Ecocash has made it very easy for Zimbabweans to fundraise money in different instances, such as paying hospital bills and school fees, among other things, and this is done remotely without the logistics and headache of organizing physical meet-ups,” she said.
“A good number of people here in Chinhoyi have formed WhatsApp groups to raise (or pooling) funds for funeral expenses and raised thousands of dollars using Ecocash in a matter of days, to support their friends and loved ones in dire need.”
Several businesses in Zimbabwe – from large retailers to small scale traders and farmers – also make use of Ecocash to make and receive payments, as well as to settle their bills.
In the past few years, Ecocash has invested millions of dollars in developing a robust and scalable platform and ensure that over 11 million adult Zimbabweans are able to safely transact on the platform, with a recent upgrade implemented just less than a year ago.
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