The Herald (Harare)

26 February 2013

Zimbabwe: End in Sight to Ecocash Wrangle

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe says it has agreed with most commercial banks on the integration of EcoCash, ending a bitter war of words with financial institutions over access to its mobile money payment platform.

The country's largest mobile telecommunications group said in a statement that the EcoCash integration process is now progressing smoothly.

Econet ran into a bitter cold war with banks who accused the mobile phone operator of shutting them out of its mobile phone payment platform.

The banks were up in arms with Econet for refusing them direct access to the EcoCash platform to be able to initiate transactions on bank accounts straight to a recipient's mobile phone number on the Econet network. But Econet has since informed its more than eight million customers that sticking issues have been resolved with all the banks and integration is progressing.

"Having already integrated CBZ Bank, TN Bank and Stanbic Bank, expect announcement on your bank soon," said Econet in a broadcast statement.

Econet said bank integration appeals to its top end customers who already have bank accounts. Econet said when a bank is integrated, a person can undertake banking from anywhere in the world at any time of day.

"You can move money from your account, and send it to someone in Zimbabwe even at midnight from China; it is that flexible," said the company.

People who run businesses are using EcoCash integration to deposit money into their accounts after banking hours, avoiding having to hold onto cash, Econet said. The company said banks that do not have integration have been concerned about losing customers to those already integrated with EcoCash.

Econet has, however, assured the banks and its customers that by the end of March, every bank that "wants to be integrated" would be on the platform.

Econet Services chief executive Mr Darlington Mandivenga said that he expected all banks to be integrated by the end of March.

Prior to the latest development, Econet got entangled in quarrels with banks for its reluctance to swiftly give all banks access to the EcoCash payment platform.

But Econet dismissed the claims that it did not want banks to transact on the EcoCash platform saying that it planned to open the mobile money payment gateway in a systematic way to ensure maximum security for its subscribers as the issue involved their money.

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