Yesterday a significant number of agents reported that their lines had been closed. Several of these agents were told that their lines had been closed because they were under investigation by the RBZ. Ecocash said it would be in touch with the affected agents once the RBZ had concluded its investigations.

That was not all. In addition to this several agents reported receiving a message from Ecocash telling them agents needed to operate from their registered addresses with an implied or else.

Dear Agent, you are advised to operate within your designated &registered address. Visit your nearest Cassava Smartech Office by 25/10/19 to update your details

SMS sent out to those with agent lines yesterday

Ecocash lines had fixed addresses before all this

Before this whole money change, thing started agents had to give their operating address to Econet ( now Cassava Smartech). This would be the business address from which they would be conducting operations.

Just like with franchises there was supposed to be a limited number of agents within a given geographical area to ensure the viability of the agent business.

Also, different locations had different float requirements depending on the expected scale of operations. Rural agents had lower requirements so a rural agent line was easy to get. In fact, as the ecosystem grew it became harder to get an agent line using an urban address.

This means a lot of people started giving false rural addresses in order to get these agent lines. The practice got even more prevalent when the 2% tax was introduced as agent lines are exempt from said tax. Also due to higher limits, the lines are especially valuable in the black market trade as rates and inflation continue to rise. These rural registered lines are often rented out for around $50 USD to would-be forex dealers.

Econet and Cassava can see you

Due to how the system works (USSD) Econet and Cassava can see your general location whenever you use these lines as you have to connect to a base station in order to transact. It’s not yet clear whether they already have a system that logs your general location yet but if not it could happen in the near future.

Even if you use the data app you normally have to give it GPS permissions which means more often than not even the Ecocash app knows your location too.

Enforcing geographical location will be a potent measure when it comes to countering black market activities although they will not stop as agents may just team up and use those urban lines.