Mobile telecomms companies reaping the cash

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By Alois Vinga

CASH-in transactions grew by 108.1% while Cash-out transactions stood at 68 % in the second quarter of 2019, a sector performance report released Friday by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) has said.

The report suggests the existence of cash cartels at a time authorities early this week reversed a ban on the cash-in and cash-out services offered by mobile money telecommunication companies.

Presenting the report’s findings, Potraz director general, Gift Machengete said there have been significant shifts of cash-in, cash-out transactions – a mobile money transfer service which has gained traction in the country.

“Cash-in transactions grew from $1, 1 billion recorded in the first quarter to $2,4 billion in the second quarter registering a total increase of 108.1%. In comparison, cash-out grew from $795 million to $1,3 billion which is equivalent to a growth of 63 %,” said Machengete.

Machengete said airtime, bill and merchant payments grew from $1, 4 million to $2,4 million, registering a 68 % growth while the number of transactions grew from 392 million to 477 million, amounting to 22 % growth attributed to a number of factors such as the general increase in the cost of goods and services as well as the growth in the number of uses and users.

Econet’s subsidiary run by Cassava Smart-Tech, Ecocash managed to process 99.6% of the total value of transactions up from 99.4% recorded in the previous quarter while Telecash processed 0.1% and NetOne’s One Money processed 0.3%.

Assessing the trends, economist Persistence Gwanyanya argued the report confirms suspicions by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) on the existence of a cash barons cartel and the magnitude of the obtaining cash problems.

Gwanyanya said: “What this signifies is that the cash-in platform is fast becoming the solution to settle payments in the wake of intensifying cash shortages where members of the public are left with no choice. On the policy front, it also confirms the existence of dealers thriving on the market problems.

“However, the move to close down the facility under these circumstances will choke the booming of a cash lite society and exert more pressure on authorities to supply cash because these figures are a clear demonstration of the critical cash shortages in our society.”

Earlier this week, the central bank banned all cash-back, cash-out and cash-in facilities as part of efforts to eradicate the buying and selling of cash at higher premiums on the black market.