On 22 August Econet launched its Ecocash Bureau De Change which is a platform for people to sell their US dollars. A week later NetOne, the second largest mobile network operator in Zimbabwe, decided to launch its own Bureau De Change. From a recent article I did on the Ecocash Bureau De Change you’ll notice I highlighted that this initiative seems to benefit Ecocash more. The question that then comes to mind is whether or not it’s going to be the same with NetOne. In this article I shall be discussing the features of the NetOne Bureau De Change which make it quite different from the Ecocash one.

The NetOne Bureau De Change

So the overall crux of the platform is to allow people to sell their US dollars. Well, for NetOne it’s more than just selling as you can also buy US dollars though that’ll be subject to their availability. Anyways, let’s delve into how the platform works. You won’t necessarily do this through your phone per se (as is the case for the Ecocash Bureau De Change). You’ll have to visit a physical NetOne shop to do the transaction. The other interesting thing is when you sell your US dollars you’ll have 3 options to choose from your pay-out i.e. cash (i.e. bond), OneMoney or ZIPIT. I mentioned in my title that it’s unique because it has an operating framework different from the Ecocash Bureau De Change. Let me underscore that the cash pay-out and the option to buy US dollars are subject to availability of the bond or the US dollars.

Some Important Things To Note

Not All NetOne Shops At The Moment
The first thing you must know is that not all NetOne shops are already offering the Bureau De Change services. NetOne has indicated that the licenses for the running of the Bureau De Change are being rolled out shop by shop as opposed to just one license for all their shops. So it might be a bit of a while before all shops are licensed. At the moment it’s their NetOne shop at the 1st floor of Kopje Building on 1 Jason Moyo Avenue that has been licensed.
You Have To Visit A NetOne Shop
I earlier on pointed this out but let me just reiterate it. Here’s why, for the Ecocash Bureau De Change you can sell your US dollars in your foreign currency (FCA) account right on your phone. With NetOne it’s not the case; you have to go to their shops physically (a licensed shop of course).

Some Personal Thoughts

First of all, just like I said for the Ecocash Bureau De Change we’ll have to wait and see how things will work out. NetOne is still to give comprehensive details about its Bureau De Change but it might be tough for them to break through. Some of the reasons are that people selling their US dollars to get RTGS$ balances on their phones must not be a hit amongst people. This I believe stems from the convenience that comes with having US dollars or bond cash in doing transactions (remember some business reject mobile money payments). This dynamic is even worse for NetOne considering that OneMoney is far eclipsed by Ecocash’s dominance. So the hindrances Ecocash might face are even worse for NetOne. This is also because it shall take time for NetOne’s Bureau De Change to become widespread. We’ve already discussed about how that the licensing is shop by shop. The fact that they have to do the transaction in-shop as opposed to customers doing them on the phone is the cause for this.
On the brighter side, NetOne does have some cards that it can use to its advantage.

Unfortunately it might not be easily guaranteed all the time but the options for people to also buy US dollars and to receive pay-outs in bond cash can popularize their Bureau De Change. Those options sound great but they’ll be hugely dependent on favourable rates. What I mean is that those options won’t be attractive if the rates offered aren’t favourable to the customers.
So like I said, let’s see how it works out for NetOne. If they’re going to be a game-changer then they have to offer competitive rates. The rates will have to be better than those of Ecocash and those of the parallel market if their Bureau De Change is to cut it.