ZIMBABWEANS in South Africa will from next month be able to send money home directly through EcoCash following approval of the service in South Africa. Econet and its partners have received all the necessary approvals from the South African authorities and are nearing completion of a successful soft launch
In an update, Econet said it has been working with its South African partners since the beginning of August on a two-hundred customer “soft launch”. As such, the direct to EcoCash cross border cash remittance service has seen the company training registration agents, enabling and verifying the interlinked systems and ensuring regulatory compliance of the end to end processes.
Econet has partnered its massively popular EcoCash service with a South African company called Flash Mobile Vending, a subsidiary of retail giant Pepkor. The telecoms operator said Pepkor’s mobile vending solution is used by more than 60 000 informal sector small business shop owners throughout South Africa.
In much the same way that EcoCash has enabled agents in the most far flung corners of Zimbabwe, Flash shop owners are spread throughout South Africa. They operate from locations convenient to the majority of Zimbabweans in South Africa; the source of vital remittances supporting loved ones at home in Zimbabwe.
Flash’s vast footprint of shop owners, identifiable by their distinctive “green cow” logo, will effectively act as EcoCash agents for remittance “cash-in” transactions. In addition, Flash plans to mobilise all PEP and PEPcell stores across South Africa to perform registrations and accept remittance “cash-in”.
In essence, the partnership with Flash extends EcoCash Zimbabwe’s agent footprint from Beitbridge to Cape Town and all parts in between South African territory. “We are entering a very exciting count down 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.
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.” said Econet Wireless Zimbabwe chief executive officer Mr Douglas Mboweni. Mr Mboweni said the service will only be available to Zimbabweans who have an Econet Wireless South Africa SIM cards, known as “Call Home”, powered by Cell C.
About a million Zimbabweans use Call Home, designed to satisfy the telecoms and mobile financial service needs of African immigrants in South Africa. He said EcoCash remittances have many unique advantages to other forms of remittance. This includes the fact that money goes from shop to phone in a matter of seconds. One can send as little as R50.
It will also be cheap compared to other forms of remittance, as Econet and Flash are volume players. “Until now people have to wait until pay day to send money home, now they can send money any time and in very small amounts. This will boost the flow of money (into the local economy) from remittances,” said Mr Mboweni.
Meanwhile, Mr Mboweni said EcoCash has now made it possible for Zimbabweans to remit money home from virtually any country in the world. “Over the last 12 months, our teams have created partnerships with money transfer agencies such as MoneyGram, Western Union, World Remit, and Chitoro.
We have also added international banks. This has made EcoCash the preferred way to send any amount of money to Zimbabwe, quickly, safely and cheaply.” International remittances are extremely important to the Zimbabwe economy. Money coming from Zimbabweans working abroad is the single largest source of the scarce liquidity for the domestic economy. Making it easier to send money home is therefore important to easing liquidity problems.
Mr Mboweni said Econet was planning massive promotional campaign to get Zimbabweans in the diaspora to send more money home to relatives using EcoCash.