Paynet targets more Ecocash volumes

Golden Sibanda Senior Business Reporter
Paynet Zimbabwe is discussing with mobile phone network operator Econet Zimbabwe’s mobile money transfer service provider Cassava Smartech, ways to use EcoCash for its bulk payments system.

Cassava’s EcoCash is Zimbabwe’s largest mobile payment system controlling approximately 80 percent of the volume of national payments, according to latest statistics published by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

Paynet used to provide Zimbabwean banks with bulk payments services through its technology platform, but the relationship broke down completely in May this year after banks refused to pay monthly service fees in US dollars and instead started to create an alternative.

Most banks have chosen to close their Paynet gateways, thereby stopping compliant banks from transacting with them.

Cambria Africa, Paynet Zimbabwe parent firm, chief executive Samir Shasha, said they were working with Cassava Smartech’s EcoCash to improve the existing arrangements regarding bulk payments processing.

“We have worked with EcoCash for years for bulk payments processing. We simply announced a free promotion,” Mr Shasha said this week.

He said the arrangement with EcoCash will see the partners improving existing arrangements to interact directly with merchants’ bulk payment accounts using APIs (Application Programme Interface) developed by EcoCash.

“Senders are able to process their bulk payments (salaries and trade) directly without sending unencrypted files via insecure emails and flash drives. There is total privacy.

“Recipients receive payments instantly and confirmation is provided to sender and recipient by SMS through the application. This will be the first platform with triple authentication (two Google generated random codes) and a PIN,” Mr Shasha added.

Cassava Smartech chief executive Edmore Chibi, also confirmed the arrangement saying the relationship with Paynet was “quite okay and we are processing bulk disbursement  through integration we have and volumes are steadily growing.”

The company said it was negotiating for a commercial arrangement with EcoCash and believes that if former users of its software turn to EcoCash for bulk payments, it will recover some of the lost revenue after losing the bank business.

Before the fallout with banks, Paynet provided bulk payments services to over 1 200 corporate clients in Zimbabwe through its  online technology platform outsourced from Payserv Africa, also a unit of Cambria.

BAZ executive director Sij Biyam, however, said after receiving an instruction from banks to preside over a new bulk payments, a new platform had been successfully developed and deployed by the banks, whom he said were happy with it.

Alternative Investment Market (AIM) listed Cambria Africa, has since filed a US$100 million claim against BAZ .

If the claim is not successful, Cambria will significantly downsize its operations in Zimbabwe as it continues to pursue its legal recourse through the courts of Zimbabwe.

Paynet claims from February this year, when the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe directed that all electronic balances and other forms of money be converted to local currency, until April 2019, it was paid in the local currency.

Over that period, banks accumulated invoices of US$430 000, while Paynet says it incurred foreign exchange losses of nearly US$200 000 from being paid in RTGS dollars.

However, banks declined to pay in foreign currency, arguing all local payments were now payable in RTGS.

Banks have reportedly developed an alternative bulk payments system, bulk file interchange system (BFIS.

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