ECONET Wireless Zimbabwe’s leading mobile money and financial technology (FinTech) services provider EcoCash was this year honoured with multiple global and regional awards.
The awards were in recognition of its rapid growth, FinTech innovations and the significant transformational impact its services have had in bringing about financial inclusion.
EcoCash now serves over seven million connected customers in Zimbabwe, and has economically empowered 30 000 agents across the country.
It is directly integrated with 11 commercial banks and offers FinTech services to thousands of merchants across all sectors of the economy ― both formal and informal.
This year alone, EcoCash received three key international awards, including the best Mobile Money service accolade, awarded to Econet Wireless at the GSMA Global Mobile Awards in Barcelona, Spain, earlier in the year, and the FinTech Innovation Award given at the 10thAfriCom Awards in Cape Town last month. The Fintech Innovation Award was given at the continent’s premier mobile and technology annual conference in recognition of EcoCash’s Diaspora service.
EcoCash is part of Econet Wireless’ Cassava business unit, which focuses on mobile financial technology solutions ― including individual and group life insurance coverbranded EcoSure, and an e-Commerce platform under the Ownai brand, among other services. It also has interests ― through its group entity ― in several African countries.
In October, Cassava’s EcoCash was confirmed as the leading FinTech business in Africa, after becoming the only company on the continent to be nominated for the global ‘Finance For The Future Awards’ awards in London. The awards were organised by the Institute Of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) in partnership with Deloitte International and Accounting for Sustainability. In a pool of global financial.
over $25 billion since inception.
This year alone, EcoCash has already moved $7 billion worth of transactions on the back of a steady shift from cash to electronic money, achieved in large part by the coming on stream of EcoCash’s mobile electronic services and a deliberate policy by the central bank to promote the use of mobile and electronic commerce. The devastating effects of a nation-wide cash crunch have been greatly mitigated by the availability of the EcoCash mobile commerce alternative. At the local industry level, EcoCash has done exceptionally well. In a market space served by three mobile money operators, the latest industry figures released in August 2017 put its market share at over 98 percent.
EcoCash’s popularity and undisputed market leadership has come about thanks to its product width and depth which have seen EcoCash become the platform of choice to a wide demographical cross section of the market. Its services are used by urban and rural customers alike, the young and old,and for a variety of convenient use cases; for peer to peer purposes, peer to business, business to business, and many others
It has therefore established itself as a genuine Fintech pioneer andfinancial inclusion champion in its market, which explains why it has received a steady stream ofcoveted awards and accolades in the recent past.
Speaking at the 10th AfricaCom Awards in Cape Town as he accepted the Fintech Innovation Award, Darlington Mandivenga, the Group CEO of Cassava Fintech, said: “As a pan-African business with roots on the continent, we focus on addressing real African challenges by driving financial inclusion and providing digital financial solutions to millions of people”.
Yet besides being the undisputed financial inclusion champion in Zimbabwe, EcoCash has also become the major mobile financial services integration catalyst in the country, as demonstrated by its integration with nearly all commercial banks in Zimbabwe.
The mobile money platform is directly integrated with 11 banks, including CBZ and CABS – two of the top financial institutions in Zimbabwe. CBZ is the biggest Zimbabwean bank by assets, while CABS is one of the oldest and biggest financial institutions that has long offered mortage finance. In addition to the commercial banks, EcoCash has partnered with 10 international remittance agencies and companies, including Western Union, World Remit, MoneyGram and Flash.
From its own Econet group stable, EcoCash has integrated with Steward Bank, considered the fastest growing local bank with over 430 000 customers. Much of Steward Bank’s rapid success has been attributed to its non-traditional banking model. The bank’s innovative digital mobile banking model offers customer convenience by packaging its banking products on a mobile walletwidely available to all demographics and accessible anywhere via the mobile phone.
The integration with the likes of Steward Bank has worked particularly well for EcoCash customers, already used to sending and receiving moneyand making mobile financial transactions using their phones. The strategic collaboration betweenEcoCash and Steward Bank has played a key role in the ‘banking of theunbanked’, orthe adoption of formal financial services by previously ‘unbanked’ people and members of the informal business and small holder rural farming communities.
EcoCash’s ability to work with the traditional formal economy – as demonstrated by its integration with the traditional large commercial banks – while at the same time helping push the frontiers of financial inclusion through its servicesto the rural and farming communities, has placed it in a unique but enviable position as a truly national payments platform. Credit goes to EcoCash’s execution and ability to forge robust and viable partnerships across the economy. It has partnered with retail merchants – shops, kiosks and supermarkets; with utility companies such as ZESA, withall city and rural councils, with SEPs (State Enterprises and Parastatals) such as the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and Zinara, the national roads authority; as well as publicand private hospitals, government and private schools and several other public and private organizations, as well as thousands of formal and informal businesses.
Besides the international awards, this year alone, EcoCash was also awarded the Best Mobile Money and Digital Payments award under the Mobile Money and Digital payments Business editors Awards for 2017. It took first prize for Customer Focused Innovations at the Service Excellence awards for 2017, and walked away with the Best Mobile Money Service of the year award at the Digital Marketing Conference Awards.
Said Eddie Chibi, the CEO of Cassava Zimbabwe: “I believe we have done our part in building a financial transacting ecosystem that serves our customers and the economy well, and that fully supports the Central Bank’s drive to achieve financial inclusion.”
“We have supported and continue to champion the government’s policy of promoting a cashless economy by promoting electronic and mobile commerce. We are delighted to have extended our reach to serve rural communities by providing them with secure, simple but vital payment solutions that give the informal market equal access to financial services as players in the formal economy and their urban counterparts” said Chibi.
Chibi added that EcoCash had in this selling season, handled about $40 million worth of transactions for the Grain Marketing Board and close to $55 million for the cotton and tobacco industries.
Accepting the AfricaCom ‘Fintech Innovation Award’, Mandivenga said: “While we humbly receive this award, our deepest satisfaction and the biggest award for us comes from seeing the impact we are having in the lives of millions of ordinary people across the continent by providing financial solutions that change lives forever”.
Those remarks would suggest that the Cassava and EcoCash management team sees FinTech and the provision of financial inclusion as a calling, notjust a job. As the awards and recognition continue to come, one can only imagine how far that calling will take Cassava’s EcoCash on its financial inclusion journey in Zimbabwe and beyond.