Let me put it this way. If banks had launched ZIPIT Smart seven years ago, Ecocash would probably never have grown to be the juggernaut it is today. Instead, they only launched the service this week but there is an opening in the market because the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe recently capped Ecocash (and other mobile money) transactions to only $5 000 which can be a problem for small businesses and some individuals especially during the month-end periods.

What is ZIPIT Smart?

If you have a bank account then you have probably used ZIPIT. It’s a technology that allows you to send money to other people using your mobile phone as long as you know their bank account. Thus far this was the only way to use ZIPIT. With ZIPIT Smart, the service is morphing into an Ecocash like service with the exception being that you will still be using your bank account instead of creating a new wallet.

Service providers and businesses can apply for Merchant numbers not unlike those used by Ecocash. These numbers will be much much shorter than bank accounts making it easier to complete transactions when paying for goods and services. This also means that small businesses will no longer have to pay for expensive POS swipe machines, most businesses do not accept swipe payments because they cannot afford the fees associated with swipe machines or simply do not qualify.

With merchant numbers all businesses need is a number after completing the KYC requirements with their bank. When a customer pays the money instantly goes to the merchant’s account. This is the best innovation from ZIPIT since their lacklustre product Vpayments.

The end of Ecocash?

Probably not. Ecocash hasn’t been doing well these past few months ever since they attracted the wrath of the banking authorities. The money gods were not happy that Ecocash had essentially become an opaque monetary system on its own with funds hardly ever leaving the system. Most importantly they couldn’t take a peek to see what was going on there as this was a private product.

Even with the $5 000 ZWL/day limit, Ecocash is a formidable well thought out product that offers much much more than banks are willing or able to at the moment. Registering for Ecocash is much easier than getting a bank account. A large number of the populace do not have a bank account and to those, Ecocash is the way to go. Ecocash is thus willing to go where banks fear to tread. They also have familiarity going on for them. There is no one way to ZIPIT as banks have tweaked the system. No central suppport with each bank providing it’s own support.

The biggest drawback for ZIPIT smart is that it’s only supported by the following bank:

  • NMB
  • Agribank
  • CABS
  • MetBank
  • BancABC
  • FBC

More banks will probably join the fold but that is then. Also I use FBC but was not able to access ZIPIT smart.

How to access ZIPIT Smart on your phone?

To access ZIPIT Smart you need to have an account with the bank that supports and has implemented ZIPIT Smart.

  1. Enter your mobile banking code via USSD you can get the USSD codes for various banks here
  2. Enter 4 digit PIN to access banking menu
  3. Select ZIPIT Smart option
  4. Select option 1 pay merchant
  5. Enter smart merchant code displayed by cashier;
  6. Enter amount;
  7. Confirm transaction

Hopefully there will be an online system like the one which Ecocash has in the event that the business you are paying has an actual POS machine. This way you will not have to hop through all those steps as you will be send a prompt which you can confirm by entering your banking pin. With ZIPIT Smart you will not need a banking card!