If you are from the old school like yours truly, you will surely remember the story (eventually a block buster movie) of how Stella Payne got her groove back. Emerging from a failed marriage, a series of flaky relationships and a disposition for serious funk, the bestselling African-American author escaped to Negril, Jamaica. There she met a young local man, Jonathan Plummer, who seemed to be the answer to all her prayers. He was less than half her age, handsome, and whatever else he was, he wasn’t endowed with the cynicism of the American men she knew for much of her life.
Holiday affairs for women often last longer than the brief relationship Zimbabweans had with One Wallet and Telecash. The story of How Stella Got Her Groove Back can be used as a case study of how these two mobile money wallets can find attractive opportunities in the current environment. Along with spending time to understand and educate customers, the said mobile wallets can also offer other services, besides cashing out money.
Netone’s One wallet launched in 2011, while Telecel’s Telecash came into existence around 2014. Like OneWallet, Econet Wireless’s EcoCash was launched in 2011, though in the month of September. Ecocash is presently the most widely used mobile money platform in the country and has become the largest bank by subscriber base and volume of transactions. The service has handled $23billion worth of transactions since inception; a serious some of money by any standard.
Here are some general questions to ponder over; Have you ever seen an independent One Wallet or Telecash agent in your neighborhood, street corners or even CBD? Although a few Telecash agents can be encountered here and there, how many have been able to cash out from them? If you have used these two mobile networks how were you able to cash-in? Did the agents you visited have cash for both cash-in and cash-out?
So it would seem as if OneWallet and Telecash expect people to use their Wallets and yet they have failed to make their agents presence top of the priority!
The current cash crisis currently prevailing in the economy is the perfect opportunity to relaunch these products, more-so as the RBZ is pushing for plastic money usage. But there are a few things they should get right.
Mobile money transfers should fill the need of providing better banking services and, as well as better reach for poor rural residents than banks or standard money transfer services. Mobile money has changed commerce and eased trade by breaking the rigid rules of high finance and banking transactions.
Payment solutions and banking services are a key infrastructural pillar for the developmet of any society. OneWallet and Telecash should first focus on getting a banking partner who will give their agents cash for daily transactions. This will give agents the power to market OneWallet and Telecash services to other users.
If such a bank is able to give around $350 per month per agent, it would be a win for them. The two mobile wallets should also partner with VISA Or MasterCard to allow payments via other platforms, like EcoCash did with MasterCard. In addition to the financial governance, advising and benefits they provide, they also greatly simplify the basic process of trade exchanges.
Over the years, the concept of banking services has expanded beyond the traditional notion of established financial institutions such as banks, credit unions, mortgage companies, pension funds insurance firms, investment banks, to include a wide array of independent payment processing actors/institutions as well as those facilitated by technology. In Zimbabwe, a large percentage of the population have no access to conventional banking services due to infrastructure challenges and low financial literacy rates.
The two services could hire an independent acquisition Agency that understands client registration and education, so as to have their sim cards registered for the wallets. The agency would carry out registration exercises throughout the country. Part of the registration promotion plan could include incentives for registering.
As an example, since Netone has employed 20 000 Brand Ambassadors in the last two months or so across the country, they can actually us them to register new OneWallet users.
Without compromising delivery, as a matter of policy the OneWallet and Telecash should also consultation with all stakeholders. Users of any given product or service fundamentally differ from the service provider in that while they expect to extract economic benefit from using the product, the service provider amass benefit by selling the product/service. This difference in motivations (utilitarian benefit vs. profit benefit) position users as great sources of innovation for product improvement as well as new product development.
In Zimbabwe, it can be argued that the journey towards mobile money should follow a “customer centric” evolution path as opposed to a “technology centric” model of innovation observed in developed nations. In rural Zimbabwe, there has been a rapid growth in mobile cellular network access in the last decade, trends which have been successfully harnessed in addressing existing problems.
So, why are partnerships important? What defines a great partnership? And with so many opportunities available, how do you select the right ones? You can never tell which partner is right for you so all you can do is embark on the journey and learn as you go.
The two services can also partner with as many remittance companies as possible. Even if it means that they will partner with 123 Money Remittance which transfers, $50 per year they will grow with company. Partnerships that have the greatest value are those that are, similar to individual organizations, laser focused on supporting the client. Just as a cooperative environment strengths our community, partnerships offer an important opportunity for the success and expansion of business.
According to a research done by Techunzipped, OneWallet and Telecash should extend beyond primary money transfer to include stored value services, bill payment, salary payments, purchase prepaid airtime, etc. Low transaction fees and a commission structure to make the system even more attractive to customers as well as distribution agents.
Building on user centric innovation paradigm earlier explained, OneWallet and Telecash should evolve beyond Consumers, Distribution Agents and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to also include Technology Partners, Banks, Merchants and Regulatory Authorities.