TELECEL Zimbabwe (Telecel) has unveiled a debit card for its Telecash mobile money subscribers to be known as Telecash gold card.
The innovation is expected to dominate and change the face of mobile money on the retail sector.
Telecel mobile financial services director Nkosinathi Dube told journalists on Wednesday the gold coloured debit card was developed to, among other things, address retailers' complains about long queues caused by customers who use their mobile phones for mobile money transactions on tills.
"Mobile money has been struggling to make a mark on the retail space and we have been working with retailers, banks and ZimSwitch to come up with the gold card," Dube said.
Telecel said the card can be used to pay for groceries, DSTV subscriptions, restaurant and hotel bills, and many other goods and services. It can also be used to withdraw cash at ZimSwitch branded automated teller machines.
Telecel said on launch, Telecash integrated to ZimSwitch for the ZIPIT functionality where funds can be transferred instantly from any telecash wallet to any ZIPIT certified bank account (Wallet-to-Bank) or from any ZIPIT certified bank account to any Telecash wallet (Bank to Wallet).
The company added banked individuals can now send funds instantly to any Telecash account from any of the existing delivery channels already available in Zimbabwe including POS, ATM, Mobile Banking and Internet.
He said his company has partnered one of the country's leading financial institutions CBZ Bank and Afrasia Bank on the new product.
"We now have more than 3 600 agents including large retailers who are on the network," he said, adding the new service will improve on accessibility of mobile money services beyond agents and normal business operating hours.
"With this product, you do not wait for an agent but you can use an ATM to withdraw money or go to any Zimswitch point in retail outlets," Dube added.
ZimSwitch has more than 5 000 point of sale machines doted across the country, improving on Telecel's agent network.
Dube said the new product is part of efforts to broaden financial inclusion.
"Through our mobile money platform, we want to broaden financial inclusion and impact on the life style of our customers," he said.
Customers will incur normal Telecash tarrifs plus ZimSwitch and or normal ATM charges.
Dube said since Telecash was launched, 25% of Telecel's 2,4 million subscribers have registered for the mobile money service since it was launched late January 2014.
He said the 600 000 customers have over the six months period transacted more than US$17 million on the platform.
Of the pus US$17 million, Telecel communication and branding director Obert Mandimika said, agents pocket between 60 to 80% of the commission and fee charges.
"We want to expand our coverage in the rural area and we are willing to give up part of our commission to promote agents in those areas so that it is worthwhile for them because they are putting investment also," said Mandimika.
Dube said Telecel was currently focusing on strengthening infrastructure for its mobile money service, growing subscription and agent numbers.
Going forward, he said, the company would focus on visibility and growing transactions both in terms of volumes and value.
Dube said the company has plans to go into the diaspora market with plans at an advanced level.
"We have already started talking to money transfer corridors in major markets and we anticipate opening these corridors in the next few weeks. We are also talking to regulators," said the Telecel financial services director.
Telecel said the company was in discussions with Visa and Mastercard with a view to expand the gold card beyond Zimbabwean boarders.
Dube said the company is also discussing with banks to come up with an interest bearing savings account on Telecash.
"We have noticed our clients keep money for more than a month and use it so we are discussing with financial institutions to see what type of an account we can come up with."
Telecel's new product comes a few weeks after the country's largest mobile network Econet Wireless partnered global remittance company World Remit to launch an international mobile money transfer facility on its Ecocash mobile money platform called Ecocash diaspora.
The Ecocash diaspora, according to Econet, is expected to handle transactions worth at least US$600 million in its first year of operation.