Mobile money: once upon a time a blessing

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Mobile money and other digital finance platforms are proving and acting as a blessing to most Zimbabweans, but it is the driver of hyper-inflation causing one product to have two prizes.

Receiving and sending money has been made easy through these platforms, for instance, someone in urban areas to send money to his/her relatives in the rural area was made easy by these platforms.

EcoCash, powered by Econet Wireless, is the dominant mobile money platform in Zimbabwe with 94.4% market shares, although Telecash and One Money have also been upping the competition.

In the early days of these platforms, many viewed them as a blessing because there were no cash shortages issues. Almost everyone preferred keeping his money in the digital because having cash when you want it, was guaranteed.

Receiving payments with EcoCash is not something that is being preferred to be received nowadays because you are not guaranteed to have cash when you need it. To cash out from an agent they are charging a 50% premium of the amount being cashed out.

The Cash shortage in the country has opened a business opportunity for the agents as they are now into the buying and selling of cash.

The agents are profiting from selling cash to those who want it, at the same time they will be profiting from the transaction which is been done as a benefit from EcoCash a. Extra charges are considered as illegal as they are not approved by EcoCash but for you to acquire cash from the agents you are to pay the charge.

Recently some Ecocash Agents were shut down by RBZ because what the agents are doing is not considered legal by the central bank. As they saw that their action was backfiring them the let the agents operate with restrictions and limitations.

Econet has been asked to address this issue by his customers and the central bank but there was no action from them which resulted in Strive Masiiwa making a comment on one of his followers on Facebook.

His comment has opened people’s eyes to have a clear picture of where the problem was coming from so as to solve the problem of extra charges.

“EcoCash does not have any money. The Cash [bank notes] money belongs to the agent. EcoCash does not print money, either physical or electronic. That is done by the RBZ. They decide how much banknotes are in circulation. If there are not enough, then they must supply them, until there is enough supply” said CEO of Econet Strive Masiwa.

When the comment from the boss gave everyone a clear picture of what to expect in the future of these Fintech services.

Cash selling is not something you can expect to end quickly in Zimbabwe as long the RBZ is not producing enough cash to the societies proper. It has to supply cash to the banks first so as to restore the trust of people in the system. As long there cash shortage in the economy cash will be sold.

Things are considered a blessing when they serve to push you to a position of advantage only and if it does not then it is considered to be a curse.

In my view, mobile money was once a blessing as it places the people to a position of advantage. It made people travel securely as people moved from place to place with no money in the pockets knowing they can access cash anytime when they want it.

Mobile money nowadays is proving to be a curse because it does not give a feeling of being secured because with it you are very sure you do not have money to buy.

Mobile money has made a product to have two prizes, there is now a cash prize and ecocash prize. The cash prize always seems to be cheap because the ecocash price carries the +50% charge for them to secure the having of cash from the Agents.

A customer with cash is given much respect and honor than the customer with mobile money as if they are not all buying the same products.

The economic crisis in this beloved nation of Zimbabwe has caused/turned a blessing into a curse, something that was good has been turned into something bad.

Mobile money used to be by choice but nowadays it’s by default because people are providing what they have in their pocket. Many companies are paying their workers with mobile money because it is what they have as the bank is failing to provide cash to them. The workers are automatically expected to have the necessary requirements for receiving mobile money.

Mobile money never gives aid to the economy that’s failing because of cash shortage but it would rather make it worse as it gives a false reality of stability. People are starting to ignore the cash shortage in the country as they are able to make a purchase of what they like irrespective of the extra charges given by the agents of our societies.

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