HARARE, Sept 17 (The Source) – Zimbabwe’s largest telecommunications firm, Econet, is set to launch its Ecocash remittance service from South Africa early October after receiving approvals from that country’s authorities, the firm announced on Thursday.
South Africa is home to at least one million Zimbabweans and presents a potentially lucrative market for the mobile money transfer business.
Launched in 2011, Ecocash has been a huge success, processing transactions worth $11 billion in the four years and boasting 4,5 million registered users as of June 2015, making it Zimbabwe’s biggest virtual bank.
Econet, in a statement said it is now primed to roll out its Ecocash South Africa service after conducting a trial run with 200 customers since August this year.
“Econet has partnered its massively popular EcoCash service with a South African company called Flash Mobile Vending, a subsidiary of retail giant Pepkor, whose mobile vending solution is used by more than 60,000 informal sector small business shop owners throughout South Africa,” Econet said.
“In much the same way that EcoCash has enabled agents in the most far flung corners of Zimbabwe, Flash shop owners are spread throughout the territory of South Africa; operating from locations convenient to the vast majority of the Zimbabwean Diaspora who are the source of vital remittances supporting loved ones here in Zimbabwe.”
Plans are underway to mobilize all PEP and PEPcell stores across South Africa to perform registrations and accept remittance “cash-in.”
“We are entering a very exciting countdown to the commercial launch of EcoCash Remittance South Africa. In less than three weeks, Zimbabweans right across South Africa will finally be able to send money home to loved ones securely, cheaply, and in a matter of seconds,” said Econet Wireless Zimbabwe chief executive, Douglas Mboweni.
“This has taken a long time to put in place but we are almost there. It will be the biggest thing that has happened to EcoCash since it was first launched.”
Mboweni said the service will only be available to Zimbabweans who have an Econet Wireless South Africa SIM card, known as “Call Home,” which is powered by Cell C.
Econet said almost a million Zimbabweans currently use Call Home which has been designed to satisfy the telecommunications and mobile financial service needs of African immigrants in South Africa.
Over the last 12 months, Ecocash has forged partnerships with international money transfer agencies such as MoneyGram, Western Union, WorldRemit, and Chitoro.