Econet Wireless, a mobile banking service and Telecommunications company, has predicted that in less than 12 months Zimbabwe will become Africa’s first cashless society.
Douglas Mboweni, the company’s CEO, stated: “In a year’s time, we do not expect anyone to still use paper money. It will resemble America or Europe where you no longer find people carrying cash bundles.”
According to Strive Masiyiwa, Econet Wireless founder, Hyperinflation had ruined people’s confidence in financial institutions though Econet Wireless establishment will bring many positive changes.
Initially, Econet Wireless developed mobile payments to assist NGOs transfer cash to refugees after the war ended in 2005 in Burundi. This was a way of helping humanitarians get money to individuals in rural areas who wanted to re-establish their lives.
“Providing people the ability to save is even more essential than credit. We are attempting to build a savings culture where people are urged to save, even if they merely have a dollar for transport, school fees and the doctor. A savings and credit infrastructure builds resilience,” stated Masiyiwa.
Masiyiwa further added that in order to reach the telecommunications companies and the unbanked, financial institutions, it is essential to design services that are affordable, easy and practicable.
Econet Wireless’s mobile payment system came into existence after the collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy in 2002. It was established in 1998 though with a lot of struggle. The company currently operates in 17 countries including Kenya, South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, New Zealand and Nigeria.