ECONET Wireless Zimbabwe is working on setting up a payment system for small value shares bought on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange using its mobile phone- based money transfer facility, EcoCash.
The system is designed to make it possible for small investors to buy and sell shares using EcoCash.
Confirming the development, Econet Wireless Services chief executive Mr Darlington Mandivenga said the system was especially meant to help small investors wishing to participate on the local bourse.
"I can confirm that we are working on a project to enable people to buy and sell shares using EcoCash.
"It is mostly directed at small investors who buy shares for less than US$5 000 at a time, to as little as US$50," he said.
Mr Mandivenga added that Econet Wireless mobile phone-based shares payment system would be an electronic trading platform which will also make share trading much more transparent.
The move by Econet Wireless is expected to go a long way towards getting ordinary Zimbabweans interested in owning shares in companies listed on the stock exchange.
The current system at the stock exchange tends to favour large institutional investors as well as foreign investors who are cash rich. Stockbrokers find it difficult and expensive to deal with the needs of small investors looking for small volumes of shares, such as those for, say, US$100.
The system Econet Wireless has in mind will allow brokers to address this market without increasing their costs. Econet Wireless has been pushing the use of EcoCash in many areas of economic activity, including public transport, retail trading, school fees payments and utility bills.
Many of its subscribers now buy their airtime using EcoCash instead of buying from vendors on the streets. Mr Mandivenga did not say when the platform would be ready, but confirmed that discussions with brokers and the securities authorities would start once the system is up and running.
He said Econet would not set up a brokerage firm to deal with its new service. "We are just providing a payment solution, which we expect the brokers and public to use. They will all make money from it," he said.
The EcoCash system now has more than 1,7 million subscribers with huge potential to grow considering Econet Wireless now has more than eight million clients using the Econet mobile phone network.