Zimbabwe’s economic woes led to a surge in the use of mobile money, and for EcoCash, the mobile money service provided by Econet, a huge avenue was found. But the largest mobile money service provider in Zimbabwe crashed for two days, and there was a bit of pandemonium because of this.
Some questions have been raised, considering our situation, which is predominantly cashless now, are the vulnerabilities of mobile money seriously grave? EcoCash commands some huge statistics in terms of its users, shrugging off little competition from the other telecoms companies, NetOne and Telecel which are both state-controlled. A figure of 8 million users define the dominance of EcoCash in our country.
A two-day crash from EcoCash, attributed to a “scheduled maintenance” stoked the chronic and latent financial fears that are a mark on Zimbabweans, after suffering some misfortunes in the previous years. The memories are still fresh.
Given the nature of the dominance which EcoCash has, Zimbabweans were left stranded and some chaos began creeping in, since people were out of options. Mobile money has really eased life. EcoCash provides transaction in the form of bill payments, merchant payments and micro insurance to banking services under an interlinked platform with most of the country’s financial service companies. This all came to a halt.
Some suffered double losses as transactions which had failed during the glitch processed when the situation had improved. The vulnerabilities of mobile money have been brought to light, but with the current situation of our economy, mobile money remains the best route in light of its convenience and lower transaction costs, and considering that most people do not have formal bank accounts.
After all, there is no cash at the banks, and no more US dollars can be issued to individuals who receive forex in their accounts. The economy is in a malaise. Mobile money is keeping things afloat for most people. But, its security is under scrutiny now.
Some people now fear they may even lose everything they have in the event that a platform as big as EcoCash crashes. Bitcoin has been touted as an alternative, but we all know that the central bank won’t tolerate this. It has crippled crypto transactions.
While mobile money presents its vast array of advantages, a little dosage of scepticism over its security is finding its space in the people’s psyche.
And the fact that only one telco giant has dominance over the mobile money market presents problems of its own too as seen with the EcoCash crash.