Mobile phone operator Econet Wireless says EcoCashSave account holders will soon be able to borrow the same way as ordinary bank account holders. This is part of what will be called EcoCashCredit that Econet Wireless is planning to roll out early in the new year with the accounts having grown to 900 000, exceeding the total held by all traditional banking institutions.
Econet Wireless chief executive, Mr Douglas Mboweni, confirmed that a scheme is being developed whereby people can also borrow money from EcoCash.
He said the borrowing will be done through partner banks, including Steward Bank. He said lending was a natural next step, pointing out that the plan was to lend for uses such school fees, right up to housing loans.
Mr Mboweni said accounts held by Steward Bank for EcoCashSave have surpassed those held by all banks put together.
“We have more than 900 000 account holders, compared to 850 000 for all the banks,” he said.
EcocashSave is a paperless banking service for opening and operating an EcoCash save bank account through your mobile phone, through
Ecocash, without visiting a bank to fill out bank account opening forms.
It provides the ability to move money in and out of your EcoCash Save savings account to an Ecocash account at no charge and savings from as low as US$1 earning interest on the saving balance. This cash is moved into the savings account using a customer’s handset and guided by instructions on the EcoCash Menu.
EcoCash is a mobile phone based money transfer service offered by Econet Wireless, allowing for cash deposits and withdrawals, transfers, cellular purchase of airtime, data bundles and bill payments among others.
The innovative non-traditional banking initiative has brought about previously unimagined financial inclusion for all Zimbabweans who for various reasons either had no access to traditional banking or did not afford.
Mr Mboweni told analysts at the mobile operator’s half- year results briefing for the period to August 2013, EcoCash had handled more than US$1,2 billion in the last six months alone in more than 50 million separate transactions and growth was expected as with overlay services expected to dry the company’s future growth as the traditional voice and short message service business matures as evidenced by stagnating revenues.