There is no doubt that Ecocash no longer dominates our lives as much as it used to. Back in 2019 and for a good part of 2020 our lives would ebb and flow according to whether their system was down or up. The bulk of people on Point of Sale systems would pay using Ecocash and every time there was an announcement over the PA in shops that Ecocash was down there would be a collective groan from people. Scores would proceed to leave the shop cursing the service.

It was the same thing on the streets. Ecocash powered the parallel foreign currency market. Often buyers would have Ecocash agent lines with millions of local dollars in them. It made sense as only agent lines were exempt from the 2% IMT tax. Having an agent line also meant that one could transact with freedom without being hemmed in by transaction limits that applied to ordinary Ecocash lines.

Then the RBZ struck in a series of moves. They banned Ecocash agents and bulk payers and made cashing out of the Ecocash system impossible. Now the only way to cashout is through the bank or by utilising street agents who charge an eye-watering 50%. The RBZ also ordered Ecocash to join the ZIMSWITCH system which means now it’s possible to send money from say, OneMoney to Ecocash and vice versa. That eroded whatever little edge Ecocash had. In times past some people had been forced to join Ecocash just so they could transact with other Ecocash users. Now they no longer needed to do that.

Ecocash still the king of mobile payment

Mobile Money WalletNumbers in 3rd Quarter 2020Numbers in 4th Quarter 2020Percentage Change
EcoCash5 425 1485 553 9811.9%
OneMoney854 320936 4769.6%
Telecash19 1985 222-72.8%
Total6 325 6666 495 6822.7%
POTRAZ report

According to the latest POTRAZ report on mobile payments Ecocash is still very much the king of mobile payments. It seems they shook off the dust from the smacking they got from the RBZ and are now going strong without a care in the world. For example a lot of people had two Ecocash lines before the RBZ banned this practice last year. That would have taken a dent in Ecocash’s numbers but it seems they have recovered from that. In fact the actually registered a growth in the fourth quarter of the year.

Telecash on the other hand is having a miserable time. It was the only one to register a shocking 72% decline in the number of subscribers. This mirrors the troubles that the government owned entity is having in it’s mobile business as well. Also, Ecocash’s main competitor, OneMoney made some significant gains but not as many as I would have expected given how well promoted the service is. Not even the fact that OneMoney receives favour from the government has allowed it to close the gap.

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