Has anyone of you ever wished you could send mobile money across mobile money platforms? Has anyone of you ever wished you could also send mobile money between mobile money platforms and bank accounts? Though there was some form of interoperability between mobile money platforms and banks, there were still limitations. I am glad to let you that there have been some significant developments in these regards. I will be discussing that and more in this article.

A Bit Of Background…

I have dealt with the issue of mobile money interoperability in Zimbabwe at least twice before. On the 6th of May I did an article where I highlighted a central bank directive that read as follows: “It shall be mandatory for every money transmission provider and mobile banking provider shall be connected to a national payment switch, as shall be directed by written notice by the Reserve Bank from time to time that enables interoperability of payments systems and services.” – This is subsection (1) of the legislation.

For the purposes of connecting to the national payment switch in terms of subsection (1) every money transmission provider and mobile banking provider shall install, deploy, or commission such infrastructure and connection protocols, credentials and documentation necessary to enable integration with any recognised payment system in terms of the National Payment Systems Act [Chapter 24:23]

There was some hype since people had always wished sending money across platforms would be possible. Fast-forward a few months later; on the 18th of August, I did another article to discuss what had happened since the central bank directive. In summary, sending money across mobile money platforms was still not yet in place.

Latest Developments

Let me start with something that has been around for a while now – some of you just might not have noticed it. When you access your mobile banking platform, when you want to ZIPIT, you will notice that mobile money providers are also there i.e. One Money and TeleCash. Essentially this means that you can ZIPIT to mobile money wallets. If you did not know, now you know. However, the most interesting development is what I am now getting into:

EcoCash To Banks And Other Mobile Money Wallets

If you access your EcoCash menu to send money, you will notice a new menu option. The moment you pick the send money option you will notice on the next menu that there is now a 5th option titled, “Send To Account”. When you choose that option you are presented with a subsequent list of banks and mobile money providers. You can now send money from your EcoCash to other bank accounts, One Money and TeleCash wallets.

Some Concerns – Transaction Charges Are Too High

Some people have already tested out the new feature. It is still too early to notice all possible issues that arise but it turns out one issue has already emerged. The transaction charges are quite astronomical as some users remarked on social media. Someone tweeted saying they sent ZWL$30 to One Money and were charged an astounding ZWL$78.38. It also seems that the sending process might not be as instant – though that can be network-related. Anyways, I did also send money from EcoCash to One Money to test the waters.

I only sent ZWL$10 and ZWL$58.38 in total was deducted. This means that it took ZWL$48.38 to just send ZWL$10. That is just too unreasonably high! The transaction charges issue is a huge deal – it feels quite prohibitive if you ask me. Interestingly, yesterday I did a ZIPIT from my bank account to One Money. The transaction charge was ZWL$123.50 for doing a ZIPIT of ZWL$2200. Just mentioned that to make a comparison; clearly, the EcoCash to One Money transaction charges are ridiculously high.

So here we are, at the beginning you could have been celebrating that interoperability is here. Now at the end, you are caught in a strait betwixt two – to celebrate the development or to bemoan the hefty transaction charges. All in all, the transaction charges are not going to help the establishment of widespread mobile money platforms interoperability. From some angle, the transaction charges could be justifiable given operational dynamics but they are just too high all the same.