THE Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz)’s latest sector report shows that mobile money subscriptions grew by 4,6 percent in the first quarter of 2020, from 7 334 639 active users in the fourth quarter of 2019, to 7 673 201.
The report reveals that the 308 562-subscriber growth in the quarter was largely driven by EcoCash, which put on an additional 253 014 new subscribers, contributing 81,9 percent of all the new subscribers gained in the quarter.
One Money added 86 295 new subscribers, while TeleCash lost subscriber market share by 747 subscribers in the quarter.
Of the total 7 334 639 mobile money subscribers in the country at the end of March 2020, EcoCash contributed 7 065 382 of them, contributing 3,7 percent of the 4,6 percent overall growth recorded in the sector. EcoCash’s subscriber market share went up from 91,8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019, to 92,1 percent in the first quarter of 2020.
EcoCash’s subscriber growth and increased market share comes at a time that Zimbabwean monetary authorities have been imposing stringent operating conditions, seen as detrimental to the growth of EcoCash – for years the leading mobile money service in the country.
In September last year, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) ordered mobile money service providers to immediately suspend the cash-in, cash-out and cash back facilities on mobile money platforms, in what the central bank said was a bid to curb illicit money trading activities.
Although the directive was later lifted, the central bank recently again introduced a raft of additional measures affecting EcoCash agents’ movement of funds within the EcoCash ecosystem of merchants, banks, bulk-payers and related players.
While some have seen this as a policy to bring EcoCash agents into the formal banking system to ensure their effective control, others see it as targeting the country’s largest mobile money business in favour of the State-controlled One Money, a direct rival of EcoCash.
This is despite the inroads made by mobile money platforms — led by EcoCash — to help ease Zimbabwe’s well-documented cash shortages in the past few years.