You have probably come across ads on WhatsApp indicating how you can buy airtime for any network using Ecocash. Obviously the convenience of buying either Econet, NetOne, Telecel or Africom airtime using Ecocash is most welcome. Often time people seek this service from Hot Recharge agents. These are essentially people who would have registered for Hot Recharge and can now sell airtime. There has usually been a misconception by many to think that being a Hot Recharge agent is the reserve of a few people. However, anyone can be a Hot Recharge agent; in fact, the registration process is quite simple. In addition to this, you can open up to many platforms than just EcoCash for topping up though it is the most popular transacting method. Herein I will discuss how Hot Recharge works, how to register and other important details.

How To Register

For you to register all you need is a working Econet line and a phone capable of sending and receiving SMS. To start the registration process you simply send a message to 180. The message will be in the following format: Reg Full Name National ID Number e.g. Reg Clive Masarakufa 22334455A8. You will then receive a message like this: “Registration Successful. Your PIN CODE is 1234. Remember your code and delete this message. Further instructions will be sent to you shortly. HOT Recharge”. After that, you will receive this message: “To Recharge send HOT AMOUNT MOBILE PINCODE to 180. Example HOT 5 0772259165 1234”. At this point, that means you will be all set to start transacting.

How It All Works

From the registration process, I have already indicated how you recharge someone’s line. You do that by sending HOT Amount Mobile Pincode to 180. Remember there that the Pincode in question there is the one you received when you registered for Hot Recharge. An example of the message would be Hot 20 0716629094 1234. Supposing you have been advertising and someone comes to you wanting airtime, the mobile you put there will be theirs. If you want to fund your Hot Recharge account you can do this via Ecocash, OneMoney, Swipe or cash at their offices, Vpayments portal on their website or bank transfer. For convenience, they bank with three banks which they found most popular with their customers. So that is the basic framework of how it all works. It is quite possible to register for Hot Recharge just for personal use. Some register with the aim of wanting to realize a profit – which is the core focus of this article.

Where Is The Profitability?

I have spoken to many people trying to establish how people realize profit as Hot Recharge agents. I have gotten varying explanations on this aspect but I will try to discuss it in a holistic manner. From what I have established, the things one must first of all bear in mind are the recharging and the funding element. I will use some real-life examples so that you get the sense of what I am driving at.

Hot recharge sells the airtime to agents at a discount and the profit is realised when the customer pays full price for the airtime. So for example when a customer buys $100 worth of airtime, only $95 is deducted from the agent’s account representing a 5% profit for the agent.

At this point let me introduce another dynamic. Dealers have been known to mark up airtime. For instance, the Hot Recharge agent I usually used to request airtime from would say RTGS$1.20 (a mark-up of 20 cents) per every dollar thus for the earlier RTGS$20 recharge I would send RTGS$24. This practice is neither encouraged nor supported by Hot Recharge. Unfortunately, it happens off their platform so they have no way of deducting or controlling it. However, agents reported for doing so can be penalised or blocked from the platform.

Hot recharge recommends agents should regularise their payments to fund their accounts. Because of transacting costs on the various platforms plus the Intermediated Money Transfer Tax (IMTT or 2% tax) agents who fund frequently in a day will feel the pinch of these charges. Daily or weekly funding is much more viable and will boost profitability. What I have realized from some remarks from Hot Recharge agents is that profitability is a function of high volumes. So pushing to get as many airtime purchases as possible is what drives profitability. The most successful agents have captive customer bases such as school and remote communities.

The discounts offered on the platform are staggered. The discount that you qualify for depends on your level of transactions. The more you transact, the higher the discount you are awarded. The specific bands differ with the networks. People who use on a very low level, for example for personal use get a very low discount level. This is to prevent self top-up users from getting the same levels as large dealers and therefore making them redundant. Dealers can check their current structure by sending an SMS to 180 and typing “? Discount”. You will receive a sales statement at the end of each month which will let you know if you have moved up or down discount levels. An income statement is sent to dealers monthly, those with internet ability can view their transactions on the website.

If this is the kind of business you feel you could do then go for it. I would encourage you to get to comprehensively understand it first before embarking on it. As I pointed out before, pushing for high volumes is what is important; you can leverage on your social, work or business circles. Obviously this business calls on you to extensively market and also to come up with competitive pricing approaches to lure customers.