In a previous article, I spoke on the issue of interoperability between mobile money networks. At the time it was a fresh directive from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. In this article, I will start by recapping that and then later I will discuss where things are now.

The central bank had given a deadline of 15 August for the implementation of a directive part of which read: “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]

Some Clarity…

Looking at the part I quoted you might wonder where the interoperability is. It’s quite simple really – it stems from the connection of mobile money transmission providers to the national payment switch. Their being connected to a central switch makes sending money from either to either of them possible. I extensively dealt with some of the major talking points regarding the issue of mobile money interoperability in the aforementioned article.

Where Are We Now?

This is an interesting question because there has been talk on how it is now possible to send money across networks. Truth is there are still some grey areas which I will discuss herein.

First off, we have not heard any official communication from the mobile money service providers. I like to think that if it was now possible they would have formally announced. In fact, I believe this is the greatest tell-tale sign if ever it becomes official.

If we are to look at whether or not you can send money across networks, you actually can. However, it is not in the way you would ordinarily expect. Consider what happens when you send money from your EcoCash wallet to another EcoCash wallet. That is not what happens when you send money from EcoCash to One Money or vice versa. Let me explain this because I once tried this out on the 6th of May this year.

I sent money from my EcoCash to my One Money. I received a text message on my One Money number saying “Your Pass Code is 66857 or register in to the system to get money.” The money sent was actually deducted from my EcoCash wallet. Whatever that text message meant I have no idea, I tried this out once the central bank directive was issued. This was before the mobile money service providers had connected to the national payment switch I am sure.

How did I send you might wonder? Well, I simply keyed in my One Money number using the usual way of sending money (only that I chose sending to an unregistered number). I did not try sending from One Money to EcoCash because I had already noticed something. One, the money was deducted but did not register on the receiving end i.e. in the actual wallet. I was left with the question of where the money went to really or is.

I tried again today to send from my EcoCash to my One Money and the same things happened. The money was deducted, did not register into my recipient wallet and all I got was that SMS notification like the one I quoted earlier.

Way Forward?

I would want to see the mobile money providers bringing clarity on this issue. It is essential for the public to really know where the whole issue is now. Still goes back to something I once said that businesses or enterprises should really learn to keep their customers in the loop. When we are left wondering like this, that is not fair business practice.

Interoperability is a heavily contentious issue, I know but customers deserve better. EcoCash stands to lose out big time if interoperability becomes official. Why? Due to their long-standing history of poor service customers will gladly send their EcoCash monies to One Wallet and transact there. This is if OneMoney can provide better service at the volumes that EcoCash transacts. In a way that will spice up the competition and cause these players to do more in terms of service excellence.