Here we will only cover the fees associated with mobile money transfers. If you want to know the fees associated with Money Transfer Agents, please see our current Money Transfer Agent Fees
There are three mobile money operators in Zimbabwe but the main operator is Ecocash (with as much as 95% of the market share). The other two are OneMoney and Telecash. The later has a negligible hold on the market and is thus for the most part ignored. We will include the costs associated with it here, for academic purposes.
Services provided by mobile money operators
Traditionally, mobile money operators were created to make it easy for Zimbabweans to send money throughout the country. They rose to popularity because most of Zimbabwe’s population remains unbanked (in a traditional sense now) and banks levied exorbitant fees when people wanted to send money. In fact most banks did not have an easy way that would allow people to instantaneously transfer money to one another.
To scale their operations mobile money operators make use of agents who act on their behalf in various areas. These agents include shops or even businesses that solely operate as agents.
Original services included:
- Cash In– this is where you go to an agent, give them money and the money deposited into your wallet. Black market dealers cunningly exploited this loophole by allowing people to cash in real USD at black market rates. For example, you walk into an agent’s shop, hand them a US$10 and they deposit this as $1 050 ZWL. Deposits are free and there is no tax. This essentially allows the agent to buy foreign currency.
- Cash Out– this where a mobile money customer walks to an agent and asks for cash. The required cash plus fees are then deducted from the customer’s mobile wallet. This used to be easy in the old days but due to cash shortages, one might need to pay a premium in order to get cash.
- Send Money– this is where you send money to another mobile wallet. All you need is that person’s number and you are good to go. For some reason, the government thought it wise to charge a 2% tax every time somebody sends money.
As mobile money evolved the following services also came to it:
- MasterCard payments using a Virtually Credit Card Number (VCN). This now only works if you have deposited real USD into your account
- Pay merchants in shops, with Ecocash you give the cashier your number and a pin prompt appears on your phone screen. With OneMoney you have an actual bank card.
- Pay utility bills for various companies such as internet service providers (ZOL, TelOne etc), municipality bills etc
- Buy airtime and data bundles
- Bank to wallet and wallet to bank transfers
- Pay salaries using Ecocash or OneMoney (bulk payments)
- Pay school fees or tithes