Mobile money services are a big part of financial systems in many African states, having been pioneered by Safaricom’s M-PESA. The convenience of accessing funds from your mobile device has also seen other telcos across the continent roll out similar products that have proved essential for millions of Africans. This has been the case in Zimbabwe for a long time, bearing in mind the state has been subject to severe financial crunches for political reasons.
According to Qz Africa, the Zimbabwean government has shut down critical parts of mobile money: cash in and cash out. These features are also known as deposits or withdrawals. The nation’s natives who have since banked on the efficiencies of the platform will not be able to transact after the government cited abuse of the system.
The state is primarily served by EcoCash, whose agents have been accused of abusing Zimbabwe’s financial woes. Specifically, some agents have been assigned guilt to taking advantage of customers by buying cash for resale to mobile money users at a premium of up to 50 percent. Say you have X amount of cash in your e-wallet, you can only access half of that amount if you want to cash out at a mobile money agent in Zimbabwe.
Qz further reports that the government ban on those features is being questioned by people on social media platforms. The development makes sense considering people who transact using the platforms are left with no option, bearing in mind that those services are top-rated in rural areas where official banking channels are unavailable. On the other hand, it is justifiable why the government of Zimbabwe would take such a strict measure because the cash for the resale model is exploitative, to say the least.
EcoCash is huge in Zimbabwe. It owns 95 percent of the market share, transacts 5 million transactions in an average day and moves more than $200 million.