Tawanda Musarurwa Senior Business Reporter
Zimbabwe continues to record a steady increase in mobile money usage, with latest official statistics showing that mobile money use grew by 5 percent in the first quarter of this year.
Mobile money is particularly important in countries such as Zimbabwe where the authorities are trying to drive financial inclusion to previously marginalised communities as most of the available mobile wallets now have the capacity to allow for transfer of funds, bill payments, savings and even borrowing.
According to the Postal Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe’s (Potraz) first quarter 2019 report, mobile money subscriptions across the country’s three mobile telecommunications providers — NetOne, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe and Telecel Zimbabwe — was positive with an overall increase of 5,2 percent from the last quarter of 2018.
As at the end of the latest quarter under review, Zimbabwe had 6,67 million mobile money subscribers up from 6,35 million subscribers in the previous quarter.
The numbers show that during the period under review, NetOne’s mobile wallet — One Money — recorded the biggest gain of 29,2 percent to 312 223 subscribers from 241 566 subscribers in the fourth quarter of last year.
Despite recording a 4,2 percent jump in subscribers, Econet Wireless’ Ecocash remains the flag bearer among the telcos with 6,31 million mobile money subscribers in the period under review from 6 million subscribers in the previous quarter.
Ecocash currently processes around 99,4 percent of all mobile money transactions.
Telecel Zimbabwe is still significantly lagging behind with its Telecash recording an 0,9 percent increase in subscribers to 53 889 from 53 392 in the previous quarter.
According to POTRAZ, the most significant transactions that have been carried out on the country’s mobile money platforms are related to airtime, bills and merchant payments.
The long-standing cash shortages appear to be having a negative impact on cash-out transactions.
And significant concerns remain over the lack of interoperability between the three networks’ mobile wallets.
“There was growth in cash-in transactions as well as airtime, bill and merchant payments in the quarter under review. On the other hand, there was a decline in the value of cash-out, cross network transactions as well as the total number of transactions,” noted Potraz.
“Cross-network transactions have been consistently declining and this is attributable to the
lack of comprehensive wallet to wallet interoperability amongst the three mobile money providers.
“Ecocash processed 99,4 percent of the total value of transactions whereas Telecash and OneMoney processed 0,1 percent and 0,5 percent respectively.”