Econet subsidizes kombi fares for EcoCash users

L.S.M Kabweza Avatar
EcoCash CommuterOmnibus, kombi

EcoCash CommuterIn an apparent move to attract subscribers to use its EcoCash mobile payment service, Econet announced this week that for a week they’ll subsidize the kombi* fare by US 25 cents for people paying via EcoCash. For some users of EcoCash this means as much as half of the fare will be paid by Econet just for using their platform.

EcoCash Commuter, the service that allows mobile money users on the Econet network to pay bus fare using EcoCash was launched just over a month ago. For most, the main advantage of the new payment method is clear; it’s a solution to the change problem. But it has its drawbacks, the main one being that compared to just taking out a coin and paying the regular way, paying via EcoCash is a process.  Users have to go through USSD menus to pay and after paying the kombi crew has to do manual verifications to check who has and who hasn’t paid. And while we’re on the kombi crews, the EcoCash payment method means they won’t handle cash anymore, something they’re likely not to be excited about.

Whether the getting-your-change benefit outweighs the drawbacks of the process is something we will all have to wait and see of course. So far it’s not clear what the uptake has been, and it might actually be too early to tell, but we’ll sure make an effort to find out in the coming weeks.

We’re guessing the kombi subsidies have been limited to a week just in case the promo gets too popular and becomes ridiculously expensive for Econet. Nothing says this won’t be extended or done again in future depending on how this week goes. Or maybe a random discount in future like they are doing with Buddie Zone?

On EcoCash payments, last week the company showed it’s intending to move as fast as possible into the payments market. The company announced via adverts that subscribers can now pay for goods at selected retail outlets via EcoCash. One such retailer is Innscor’s Chicken Inn, a fast food outlet.

*Kombi is local Zimbabwean colloquial for public transport minibuses


  1. Chris Mberi


    just an idea

  2. Chris Mberi

    Else lets connect ecocash with cards implementing near field technology

  3. Jabulani Mpofu

    near field technology is a idea fine but novel even in developed counties. ecocash should release a developer api, developers can service niche markets of ecocash usesrs and add relevant functionality and convinience

  4. Guest

    Paying for a bus fare using USSD is delusional, to be honest those guys want to maximise on cash transactions understandably so, I can understand increaseing your wallet balance for things like change which is practical, but paying for bus fare when the operators may choose to hike their fares during peak hours would not work out to their advantage what so ever.

    I’ve mentioned RFID and NFC in previous posts and that truly would be innovation. Ecocash works just not everywhere and not for everything.

    1. tinm@n

      I’ve mentioned RFID and NFC in previous posts and that truly would be
      innovation. Ecocash works just not everywhere and not for everything.

      Except that would require NFC-enabled devices. An additional cost. Implying slower or near-zero adoption by the public.

      1. Guest

        RFID’s are not restricted they have been used to tag and track food stuffs in transit from let’s say manufacturer to retail outlet, they are low cost and can be attached to the back of a mobile phone as a a pass if you like.

        What maybe is costly is the reader which in this case you would want to subtract a specified number of journeys before the tag is no longer is functional with a particular traveler. Plus the fact that you could pay for the journey before you board a particular kombi.

        They are easily replaceable once expired and would not be as costly as producing a plastic card neither would they litter that much.Any way that’s just my 2 sense doesn’t really count…..

  5. Alu Moyo

    Vanhu ava vakuda kutirovesa na-ana conductor. Imagine; you use this for a week perfectly, you get used to it – wovarairwa. Then one day you board a kombi with NO CASH, expecting things to just work like normal, and then the USSD thingy starts to act up (like it often does when recharging your phone or buying data). PANOROWHA MUNHU!

    1. Prosper Chikomo

      Very funny sterek!

  6. Mike

    On a separate non-technical note, I’m still to see a single kombi that actually accepts Ecocash or is even labelled as such. Nevertheless this isn’t viable as the USSD system is unstable.

  7. Magneto

    Can someone tell us how this system works very well in Kenya and why it may not work here in Zim…

    1. Tendai Marengereke

      It’s not that popular in Kenya, according to a correspondence i once had with a techie, few people use it,

      1. Tech1

        To say MPESA is not popular in Kenya is not correct. First verify your facts or else you mislead people. I have worked in Kenya for 5 years and m-pesa hit $300 million in transaction volumes way back in 2009. As of now it handles more transactions (by value) than 5 of the largest banks in Kenya. So its definitely not “unpopular”

        1. Tendai Marengereke

          That Mpesa is a run away success is a well known fact. I was not talking about MPesa as a whole, but the use of it to pay kombis. Having stayed in the country you would be best suited to enlighten us. Is Mpesa popular in paying for kombis (public transport minibuses) ?

  8. Emmanuel Makaza

    maybe creating a swipe card system might work in this case. coz ecocash ma1

  9. Prosper Chikomo

    And what about when the SDO (Sliding Door Operator) has more Ecocash than cash, or has no cash at all and his passengers want their change and thy dont want EcoCash because they want to buy something? No one wants to be driven all the way to DZ, Mutare and back with the kombi just looking for cash.