Econet opening up full USSD mobile money transfer functionality to Zimbabwean banks

15 Jan 2014

Econet Wireless has reportedly opened up full Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) functionality for its ZimSwitch mobile money transfer service, local news agency TechZim reports, citing unnamed sources. According to the article, in the coming months Zimbabwean banks, through the ZimSwitch Shared Services platform, will be able to provide a full mobile money transfer to Econet subscribers. Econet subscribers who are subscribed to a bank’s ZimSwitch Mobile service are currently limited to non-mobile money transfer transactions, such as buying airtime and transferring money to bank accounts. An unnamed official in the financial services industry commented on Econet’s decision to finally open up the platform: ‘My feeling is because they know it will cause too much trouble in the long run, and now that EcoCash has had three years to penetrate, they do not see it as being a real risk anymore… compared to a couple of years ago.’

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in December 2013 Zimbabwean banks reportedly refused Steward Bank, the wholly owned subsidiary of telco Econet Wireless, access to their ZimSwitch platform, following Econet’s refusal to give them access to its own network platform, thus preventing them from freely rolling out their own financial products. Steward Bank must connect to ZimSwitch, which is majority owned by an association of Zimbabwean banks, in order to link with automated teller machines, point of sale machines and other related online financial service systems. A source familiar with the matter commented: ‘Other banks have lobbied against the admission of Econet’s banking unit [Steward Bank] in retaliation over the mobile phone operator’s refusal to allow banks free access to use its network platform.’