Econet scales down debit card issuance

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LISTED telecoms firm, Econet has scaled down the issuance of new debit cards for its mobile money service, EcoCash, in line with the central bank’s directive to monitor foreign expenditure.

Local financial institutions have been battling to meet foreign payment obligations on the back of low nostro balances as foreign currency shortages in the country persist.

“EcoCash has scaled down on the debit card as all other financial institutions in Zimbabwe to manage foreign currency spend obligations in line with a directive from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to financial institutions to observe meticulous usage on foreign expenditure,” said executive assistant to group chief executive Mr Lovemore Nyatsine by email.

The EcoCash debit card was launched in July 2014, and it was anticipated that three million customers would be issued with the debit card within five years.

This has, however, been affected by shortages in foreign currency in the country, although the telecoms firm indicated the market had responded well to the initiative.

“We are overwhelmed with the success of the debit cards whose performance has exceeded our expectations based on demand form customers,” said Mr Nyatsine.

EcoCash also suspended payment of Multichoice’s DSTV subscription at the beginning of the year. Mr Nyatsine added this was in line with managing foreign expenditure as per guidelines from the RBZ.

Mobile money transactions have become popular in recent time and it has been hailed for enhancing financial inclusion in the country.

According to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) first quarter report, there are 3,25 million mobile money subscribers who were active in the first quarter of 2017.

The regulatory body describes an active mobile money subscriber as a customer account that has used mobile money services to make transactions that involve the movement of value such as cash-in, cash-out, bill payments and airtime top-ups at least once in the last 90 days.

“Many customers have turned to electronic payments. Customers have appreciated the value created through convenience, spread and security of the EcoCash platform,” said Mr Nyatsine.