The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Ecocash Spreads to CBZ Bank

ECONET Wireless has partnered with CBZ Bank in the provision of mobile phone-based banking services through EcoCash, a development that will further enhance convenience for customers of the two leading institutions.

The partnership would allow Econet and CBZ Bank customers to carry out a number of banking transactions on their cellphones from any location in or outside the country.

This arrangement enables balance transfers to and from the EcoCash wallet and CBZ Bank accounts while other benefits include bill and commuter fare payments, retail or airtime purchases and interbank transfers among others. Further, the EcoCash-CBZ partnership enables account balance inquiries, processing of mini statements and provision of merchant banking services on the cellphone. It can also be used to pay salaries.

Econet Services' chief executive Mr Darlington Mandivenga said the partnership was a result of their desire to introduce innovative solutions that address challenges people face in their lives.

"Without customers we would not exist, we exist to identify their needs and their wants.

"We exist to identify their problems and offer solutions to those problems," he said.

Mr Mandivenga said EcoCash had eliminated challenges around small change, which often resulted in forced purchases by customers, inconveniences when paying commuter fares and risks of moving around with cash.

"The initiative, considering the coming on board of the country's biggest bank, would impact people's lives in a big way as EcoCash has evolved into more than just a money transfer service, but a mobile money financial service. In terms of benefits to Econet and CBZ, the sky can only be the limit considering EcoCash is now handling in excess of US$300 million mobile money transfers every month, which will enhance the companies' top and bottom lines," he said.

Speaking during the unveiling of the partnership, CBZ Bank executive director Mr Collin Chimutsa said the marriage would bring immense benefits to account holders when they transact through EcoCash.

"This CBZ-Econet partnership allows existing bank account holders to easily make payment from their accounts through EcoCash. This partnership makes it quite easy for any of our clients to make transfers to any beneficiary without visiting our banking halls.

"That will be a pleasure in terms of the retail operations where our banking halls will concentrate on other areas rather than just people withdrawing cash from the banking halls," he said.

Mr Chimutsa said the country's biggest retail banking institution would continue striving to introduce innovative and convenient banking service delivery channels at a lower cost, which Government has been pushing for.

This was well within reach, Mr Chimutsa said, considering that this was a partnership between the country's most innovative banking institution and mobile phone operator.

Econet chief executive Mr Douglas Mboweni said the partnership would bring unforeseen convenience for customers who are now able to transact from any location, something they were not able to do before.

"The joy of it is that I can check my bank balance in the comfort of my village, as long as there is (mobile phone network) coverage. I can also transfer money from my wallet to my account and from my account to my wallet," said Mr Mboweni.

The Econet boss said the partnership with CBZ Bank was proof that better and exciting times lay ahead and the initiative was only but the beginning of many similar innovations. Already, CBZ Bank customers can transact using the latest real-time technology such as Visa and ZimSwitch, but the bank is also working on introducing the MasterCard soon.

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