Ecocash has been praised for removing processing fees for cash transfers designated as COVID relief so as to enable the Government, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and any other relief organizations to freely give support to vulnerable groups and communities at no extra cost.
The CEO of Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe, the holding company of EcoCash, Mr Eddie Chibi, said the goal of the company was to use their digital solutions to address the current epidemic.
“We are a digital capability company and our goal is to create as many digital solutions as possible to address the current COVID-19 crisis so that lives are saved, first and foremost,” said Mr Chibi.
“The wide distribution of some of our products and services means that we can use our platform and smart data network to reach even the most vulnerable in our country, and create services that bring convenience to millions of citizens.”
Mr Chibi said his company was currently working with the government and development agencies to avail their platform and digital services network to deliver relief where its needed most “as quickly as possible”.
Mobile money and digital electronic transfers become a vital mechanism through which help can be extended to vulnerable groups in times of crisis, speedily and in a convenient and safe manner.
The EcoCash platform has over 11 million customers registered in Zimbabwe and accounts for the bulk of transaction volumes processed in Zimbabwe. It has over 200 000 outlets, accounting for the country’s largest distribution network of agents, merchants and partners for the payments of good and services.
During the COVID-19 epidemic, the ability for people to send money and pay merchants (shops, pharmacies, hospitals, and many others) through their mobile phones minimizes the need for physical contact and therefore lowers the risk for potential transmission of the virus between individuals.
Zimbabwe is among the countries with the highest level of digital financial inclusion in Africa.
EcoCash launched proximity payments two years ago, a proposition that allows shop till operators to enter a customer’s number on a point of sale (POS) machine and the customer receives a push message at ‘far proximity’ confirming the payment on their mobile phone. EcoCash is currently working with supermarkets to increase the adoption of proximity payments, according to its CEO Ms. Natalie Jabangwe.
Ms Javangwe said: “Customers should be able to order over the phone or online and make a proximity payment from the comfort of their home without the need to travel to the shop. Our partnership with Vaya makes goods delivery safe and convenient”.
She said so far Food World and Spar shops were piloting the proximity payments at scale, before a full telesales and proximity scale-up operation is launched across the country with other retailers.
“Digital has changed everything in this global crisis. Work and communication have moved to the digital sphere in an unprecedented fashion,” Ms. Javangwe said.