It is common knowledge that there are so many people in the diaspora sending money back home, here. This is obviously fuelled by the ailing economy which is causing most locals to struggle financially. Thus it becomes strategic for locals to receive foreign currency (e.g. USD dollars and South African Rands) from their loved ones abroad. All this points to why diaspora remittances are now a big thing. For those who are enterprising enough, this has necessitated the setting up of services in that domain. No wonder why the EcoCash Bureau De Change was set up in order to leverage on foreign currency-based transactions – I will mention this again later on.
Lest We Forget…
There used to be a time when cashing out from EcoCash agents was hassle-free. It did not matter which agent you would go to; you would always get the cash you need. The issue of percentages was not even there as you would only part which the normal EcoCash transaction charges. As time ensued, things took a turn as cash became scarcer and scarcer. As that trend grew, cash slowly became a commodity as it largely is now. This dealt a huge blow to EcoCash agents as most usually do not have cash available at all times. This is all basis for why Cassava is turning to diaspora remittances. They know that they will be dealing with strong currencies as opposed to the local one which is mercurial and weak.
Cassava Smartech’s Thought Process
Already I have mentioned the surge of money sending from the diaspora. This is the key reason for which Cassava has seen a business prospect in making sure every part of Zimbabwe has diaspora remittance services. So they have decided that they will have agents all across the country. Zimbabwe is around 69% rural and Cassava has indicated it will endeavour to cover all those areas. The idea will be for diaspora remittance services to be just a stone throw away. This is in contrast to the present model where people literally have to travel to towns in search of diaspora remittance services.
Sometime last year, Sasai was rolled out, which is chats and payments app inspired by WeChat. One of the services in-app pertains to diaspora remittances. The essence is that one can receive money in the form of foreign currency from abroad via that platform. A guaranteed cash pickup will be available whenever someone receives money like that. So what Cassava Smartech is seeking to do is to put up a framework where one can go to an EcoCash agent and get their money sent from the diaspora – cash. Cassava has highlighted that not too far from now it will become commonplace to get your US dollar cash money when you receive it through their remittance service.
The EcoCash Bureau De Change will come in handy for this service too. This is because some people might want to convert their hard foreign currency into electronic money. This will most certainly be common nowadays because that will unlock more value for the money. Thus I suppose it will be popular to see people converting their hard foreign currency into electronic money. The only downside will be that their rates might not be as competitive as those on the parallel market.
Let Us Look At Some Things
One, the idea of having US dollar remittance agents is noble. Especially for rural or peri-urban folk, it is most welcome. Most people have always had to travel to towns in search of diaspora remittance services. This will come as a relief to most of such people. Two, this will decongest the few remittance service buildings that have been mainly characterised by queues. Having agents provide the same service will spread out the demand thus making the process much smoother. As for the Bureau De Change, it remains to be seen if their rates will be competitive enough. If they are not, people will just pick up their US dollar cash and go with it to the parallel market.
Evidently foreign currency availability has been an issue locally. This has been so despite diaspora remittances being very active. This then makes it interesting to see how this initiative will pan out. Will it quickly become the case that EcoCash agents will readily have foreign currency at any given point? That all remains to be seen in the upcoming weeks as per Cassava Smartech’s word.