Econet, banks in feud over access to mobile money transfer platform

16 Dec 2013

Zimbabwean banks have reportedly complained to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe over Econet’s refusal to give them access to its network platform to freely roll out their own financial products. Local news agency The Herald sites unnamed sources familiar with the matter as saying: ‘There is a feud in the market as banks are up in arms with Econet over its refusal to give them equal cost-effective and tamper-free access to its network for the delivery of mobile-based services.’ Further, George Guvamatanga, the president of lobby group Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ), pointed out that Zimbabwe does not have a legal framework that governs mobile banking services, opening up the sector to unacceptable practices. He said: ‘Econet is literally saying to banks, build your own network; this is pretty much like the Government or National Railways of Zimbabwe saying to someone who wants to go to Bulawayo by train — build your own railway line.’ Econet CEO Douglas Mboweni had previously said that banks could have access to its network platform through EcoCash and that financial institutions were free to use it. However, he added: ‘There is a huge misunderstanding in terms of the definition of a gateway. For Econet, the gateway is EcoCash. Therefore, financial players who want to launch their MMTs [mobile money transfers], must use EcoCash as the platform. We allow banks to transact using EcoCash, even launching their own MMTs, but on the same platform. It has the capacity.’