EcoCash MasterCard debit card: Econet launches the payments game changer

L.S.M Kabweza Avatar

We just attended the launch of Econet’s new EcoCash linked MasterCard card in Harare. A lot about the card is like what we wrote about yesterday. But there are a few things to add.

First, Econet has named the product EcoCash Debit Card, essentially, the same name of the virtual debit card. We learnt today by the way that the virtual debit card was indeed unpopular.

The EcoCash debit card facts:

  • The card works like any other MasterCard debit card. You can pay with it anywhere in the world, including in Zimbabwe.
  • You can use the card to pay for stuff on the internet wherever MasterCard is accepted, and that’s a majority of the merchants.
  • The card is not a prepaid card. It accesses the EcoCash wallet to enable a payment.
  • Users of the card can also withdraw money from MasterCard licensed ATMs. We have no idea how many of these are there in the country.
  • The card uses what is called EMV Chip and PIN technology, which is much more secure than magnetic stripe cards that most of the local banks still use.
  • The card is what MasterCard refers to as the Mobile Money Companion debit card.
  • According to MasterCard this is the first time that physical MasterCard debit cards are available to people using mobile money services in Africa.
  • The old virtual debit card is not being retired. It will keep working in the background. In fact it still covers situations where there’s no MasterCard POS.

 Cost & getting the card

  • The cost of the card to the customer getting it is $2
  • Transactions fees will be between 30 cents and $2.45
  • The EcoCash Debit card is available at select agents (about 700 of them they said), Steward Bank branches and Econet shops. So do note that not all agents (there’s over 13,000 the last time we heard) can sell you one.
EcoCash CEO, Cuthbert Tembedza, speaks at the launch of the EcoCash Mastercard debit card in Harare today
EcoCash CEO, Cuthbert Tembedza, speaks at the launch of the EcoCash MasterCard debit card in Harare today

Our thoughts

The huge convenience here is that now the EcoCash wallet is also a MasterCard wallet. That is huge in so many ways whether you just want to pay for stuff at a shop in your neighbourhood, want to buy stuff across the borders, or want to buy off the internet.

Between having EcoCash and a MasterCard, you will almost always never need to have cash. Except of course the the remaining fact that some informal guys will still refuse to have you pay them via mobile money because it costs them to withdraw the money when they eventually need to cash it out.

Unfortunately, it’s not clear yet just how many MasterCard enabled Point of Sale Devices are out there. Cuthbert Tembedza, the EcoCash CEO however did allude to the fact that they are going to to contribute to the process of building local acquiring infrastructure.

The good thing for Econet is that this is not their work alone. There are a lot of banks including FBC, CBZ, Stanbic, Standard Chartered etc… that are part of the effort of building the infrastructure. And MasterCard itself.

According to Econet, they are looking at local POS transactions as the big opportunity for the new card. Unfortunately, without ZimSwitch, there’s a limit to how many merchants can accept EcoCash’s new card.

Again though, we say this without any numbers of how many ZimSwitch enabled POS devices are out there compared to MasterCard ones. Our guess is that MasterCard POS devices are dwarfed in comparison, but then the banks haven’t exactly been healthy these past couple of years. And surely, Econet has the deep pockets to change that overnight.

It’s also hard to say right now just how popular the card will be with the man on the street. We spend a lot of time with people that buy stuff off the internet and in other countries, so it’s easy to assume our excitement, and that of any other person on the street will be the same. In short, we’re very excited with this product, but we’re not the market!

You can read the MasterCard press release here.


  1. Mhuka Huru

    Yeah, a game changer for mainly us the tech guys, the few who wants to buy stuff onlinbe, but again, it is now our duty to make sure Zimbos understand online transactions, their convinience, etc. Guess what, I cant wait for Telecash to be on Mastercard as well, at least they have client-friendly charges, but Well done Econet, and I still hate you, but I’m going to get my card later on in the day

    1. Anonymous

      murikubhojera Bhiza rakafa Tsano. Telecel…..

    2. Taurai

      With EcoCASH, you will need a MasterCard Switch to allow you to draw money from your wallet using an ECOCASH Card. With TELECASH, you will need Zimswitch to allow you to draw money from your wallet using a TELECASH Card.

      There are more ZIMSWITCH Access Points in Zimbabwe than MasterCard Access Points….

      For those travelling abroad….if you already dont have a Visa Debit Card, this is another option. If you already do..then advantage is when you run out of money whilst abriad, you can ask someone in Zim to send you money via ECOCASH.

    3. florence

      I believe the card is not safe at all .ltried to withdrew money at park station in SA but l couldn’t because the ATM wrote they was insufficient money in the acc so l went away but after sometime my brother with the fon received a msg that $254 was withdrawn in the acc .l never withdraw that money so who took that money bcz at ATM l was even issued a slip of insufficient amount .l wish if this case can be resolved bcz l can’t loss money like that

  2. Mhuka Huru

    Transactions fees will be between 30 cents and $2.45
    Will I be charged by MasterCard and EcoCashit seperately?

    1. Wamdara

      It’s just a single charge which is inclusive since they have partnered with MasterCard.

      1. Taurai

        Why are Econet employees, code name Mhuka Huru, Wamdara (same person), Mhofu (another big animal or Mhuka Huru) , Candy etc…turning this into a FAQ for ECOCASH?

  3. Candy

    This is so positive, i am definately going to get one in today by day end. Goodbye FBC Prepaid Mastercard. It was so inconvinient visiting the FBC Branches, after all, they took 30 or so minutes uploading it, in case of replacement in case its lost, they charge 10. Tough, we are crossing over.

    1. Wamdara

      Moreso, u know with the Fbc account u will be charged monthly service fee of $5 whereas with the Ecocash debit card u’re charged as u transact only & no other fees.Replacement fee for the ecocash debit card is only $2, so i heard. I think this is where telecel has lost it.

  4. shumba

    Telecel yachepa!!! Telecel vana …….

  5. no nonsense nerd

    this is a great move, now we can move around with less cash in the pocket that is more safe and efficient. More clarity on the charges is needed though are those stated inclusive for both ecocash and master card??? more point of sales outlets are needed.

    conclusively this is a positive move in improving our standards of living.

  6. Mb

    Telecash kumberi because its Zimswitch enabled, mastercard is okay but how many online transactions does one need to do in a month and considering you will be paying for goods and services outside the country because our local merchants can’t acquire online mastercard transactions i would rather stick to a combination of my FBC prepaid card (tried and tested) and telecash gold card accessible on ZimSwitch but kudos to Econet for making their card EMV compliant.

    1. mhofu

      i think you are missing the point here tho, these guys are saying they have their own 10 000 point of sale devices in the market…simple calculations shows tht thats twice the number of all atha bank’s devices combined, the rest have less than 4 000 put together…so i guess they are ready…..

    2. Wamdara

      Well with the Ecocash debit card i am not forced to be an account holder with any bank i.e i don’t need any bank account where i would be charged monthly service fees eg with Fbc bank.All i need to do with my ecocash debit card is to just cash in into my ecocash wallet from any of their Ecocash agents all over the country and start to transact instantly.

    3. Candy

      I don’t need the Telecash Gold card simply because I already have a bank account with my local bank and my card is on ZimSwitch already so I can transact as usual. What makes this Econet Debit Card special is the issue of low transactions cost backed by real convenience of depositing your money into the wallet from any agents which are anywhere to be honest. Personally, I have bn using the FBC Predaid MasterCard before but the issue of visiting a bank is the main reason I wll dump it. In addition, they charge u just for loading cash into that card $3 to be specific.

  7. Zhou Taisekwa

    Thats good.

  8. AppMan

    This is a game change to ecommerce in zimbabwe. Thanks econet

  9. Trance D

    I am a Zimbabwean working overseas,how do I sign up for EcoCash Mastercardand how do I upload funds into my EcoCash account?

    1. fourwallsinaroom

      You have to come to Zimbabwe. required in person with ID to sign up.

  10. zaniest

    So can we use this MasterCard to link and confirm our paypal accounts, still stuck with useless barclays visa cards

    1. Terrence Chikasha

      i thought i was the ony one noticing the uselessness of FBC and barlays,

    2. Dave

      Great question was also waiting for someone to address this

      1. Rational Ear

        The FBC Mastercard actually works. I already linked mine to PayPal and have been using it via PayPal since it started working in Zim.

        1. Candy

          I have too linked mine. But why do they charge $3 (load cash fees) when you top it with cash. Visiting the few FBC branches to me is a draw back compared to Econet agent scattered all over

    3. Emmanuel

      please i want to know if standard chartered banl zimbabwe and barclays still use the old magnetic strip debit card

  11. Kumbirai

    Econet, always taking it to the next level. As much as telecel maybe be cheaper, the fact that econet is always coming up with new ideas, it will always be my primary line. Telecel…just for that rare occasion when someone can’t send the money via ecocash

  12. Brighton

    For All haters of Innovation … go and rest in dark …… This is good and I will ensure all friends and family members have this from today. I love Zim, long live ZIm and this cant be untrue till companies like Econet is alive

  13. Anon

    Just wondering is the acard affected by ecocash transacting limits and is it purpose built for Zimbabwe as mastercard is not the main interoparable platform used here rather targeted at foreigners.

  14. Glenn

    well we all knoe that master card tech wasnt that popular in Zim but believe me guys Econet and Steward Bank are taking it to the highest level guys, ryt now they are ready to deploy thousands of mastercard pos devices so thumps up to them

    1. fourwallsinaroom

      They have already started. Running a bar / takeaway our Ecocash Merchant POS swipes mastercard and zimswitch as well as the regular pay merchant and has been for some time now. They switched the POS device about a month or two ago.

  15. Duwayne

    Can’t wait to try in on google play

    1. Bhekimpilo

      Same here. Making the move from fbc prepaid

  16. Letala

    I am getting my MasterCard first thing tomorrow.

  17. collen

    if u dont buy stuff online or do international transactions online dont think all of us dont.
    Econet kwakumberi, Y do i need telecash card? Zimswith i have so many local bank accounts and they are all on zimswitch kare

  18. .Tinashe.

    The prices are not that much compared to what the banks are charging.

  19. The Oathkeeper

    Econet inogara iri kumberi kunge mufundisi well done

  20. Molly

    Wow just wat i needed! Right on time! Glory to God! Mwaaaa Econet!

  21. Molly

    Wow just wat i needed! Right on time! Glory to God! Mwaaaa Econet! Kumberi mberi kwekuseri

  22. Anonymous

    TeleCash Gold Card is the way to go! Can transact in any retail shop with it, for the EcoCash Debit Card, can only think of FBC ATMs only,

    1. Wamdara

      Anonymous i don’t think you know what u’re talking about exactly. Telecel gold card is the one that requires u to first open an account with Fbc so that you can use MasterCard services via their gold card.With the Econet Debit card you don’t need to be an account holder with any bank all you need is an active ecocash wallet.

      1. Anonymous

        The advantage of the EcoCash Card are the international payments which i will only do once or twice a month, unless if i am some cross border trader of some sort, the mass people or financialy inclusive people do not realy make international transactions, but they buy day-day basics in retail shops, which is were the TeleCash Gold Card is the winner and the EcoCash Card is weak, there are limited POS devices that support master card in retail shops.

        1. bbbbbbbb

          Anonymous i think you are missing something the the Ecocash debit card you can pay for goods in retail shops

          1. bbbbbbbb

            Anonymous i think you are missing something with the Ecocash debit card you can pay for goods in retail shops

    2. mad

      ATMs Kingdom bank, FBC, NMB, Stanchart, Barclays ,
      Some shops accept mastercard,

      Usatinyepere , If ur bank dont have mastercard wakasara

  23. Samuel Kwangware

    This is the best news yet for e commerce in Zimbabwe, i have been waiting for this for a while no. We have finally arrived and i have a filling Zimswitch may be in trouble with this disruption as due to the number Ecocash has it could b e repalace by more innovative POS devices like the ABSA pebble recesently launch in South Africa. There may be very problematic especially to the balance of payment of this country as this card will definitely spur more imports of goods and services (especially softwares for once)

  24. collins

    will definately get one its more convinient especially when travelling outside zim

  25. tsano

    From the general look of things, yes everyone is excited but, Will the local industry ever stand? i see this as just another way of externalizing our hard earned cash to foreign countries unless of course, we are also allowed to Sell our stuff to these countries which i guess will take quite a while.

  26. Dave

    Can this card be linked to paypal etc?? If so then the telecel card has no comparison, the only trump telecash think they have is the zim switch trump of which zim switch is slowly being replaced by ecocash POS and merchants Incase they hadn’t noticed, and nw with the introduction of MasterCard they dead and buried. Time for them to wake up and realize we r in a global economy which Econet have already done

  27. Duwayne

    OK got the card but i can’t use it on google play, just getting an invalid card error, has anyone else tried it?

  28. Greg

    in sa vodacom has relaunched mpesa with a visa card

  29. Taurai

    Its pathetic that we have people from ECONET and TELECEL posting here punting their products.

  30. Tavo

    I do not see ecocash competing with banks such as FBC on customer service seeing that this is a mass product but Kudos to Econet for the EMV product

  31. Clay

    Ok people lets get this straight. If Eco cash now has a mastercard that means its also possible to pay using paypal as Paypal accepts mastercard without the need for a paypal account. Somebody please tell me this is so, coz that would be fantastic for my business.

  32. Sirchieftaps

    the ecocashdebit card does not do online transactions, you need to create a virtual card to use online.

    1. Duwayne

      ya still doesn’t work. Going to see steward bank to ‘fix’ it

      1. Seriously

        Ditto, it doesn’t work on the net, speak to Stewards and sort this out, Don’t advertise something that does not work correctly. im just saying

    2. Anonymous

      it does

  33. SirChieftaps

    I created the ecocash debit card for online transactions still saying errors, i think econet just launched a service that is not ready like what they did with the free Twitter issue, they just trying to compete with Telecash but with a not ready product.

  34. Duwayne

    Steward bank was no help, i was asked to call ecocash help 114. i am giving up.

  35. Tit for Tat

    At some point I would like Techzim to moderate some of the comments being posted here. It is clear most of them are coming from clowns from the competing mobile operators. People come here to hear evaluations of new technologically based products in order to be assisted to make rational decisions. The rented mobs that one can clearly read through on the forum need to be shut out with their blatantly partisan contributions. One can easily see who these are by going through their comments on various articles carried by this site.

    1. Telecel Worker

      nd you my friend sound like an Econet worker. don’t make baseless accusations with no proof. maybe you should you get banned.

  36. Disgruntled Agent

    This means less money for agents seeing as we got our commissions on Cash-Outs. If everyone can now do it on an ATM, then we will be making next to nothing soon

  37. Stan

    ….the same institution which charges $7.00 for sending and receiving a $100.00 via Ecocash. And now you think they are cost effective? Charged people $100 for a SIM Card which in real terms should cost less than a dollar, and you say they are great… thaaaaaa

  38. nigel

    does this card have a transaction limit, say u want to buy something online which could cost you $5000 today and tomorow u want something for a $1000 online again

  39. Diamonds

    The major problem for me with debit cards in zim is that you have problems with online betting sites… my question is this can i use this on my account without any hustles?

  40. Denny

    have smeone actually used the card to buy online i need to deposit money in my bet365 account.Someone help me plz


    please help me I’m stuck ,can’t make withdrawal check my account I’m out of country

  42. Gracious

    If im in South Africa and someone transfers cash to my eco cash account will it be there on my debit card

    1. Mr Marims

      yes, coz the debit card is just an extension of the wallet, whatever amount is in the wallet is the one in the debit card.

      1. sean

        i bought. this. card yesterday. in Zimbabwe. before leaving for south. Africa. i watched. the. agent. activate. it. infront ome. i am. in. Johannes burg now and it is not working at any ATM. stranded Econet does it again

  43. alpha manjera

    Can you assist please. I am a Zimbabwean and I want to pay UNISA application fee into standard bank south Africa. Is it possible to use the debit card for econet and at what charges?

  44. FutureSound

    My brother just tried the card.It works on websites like Godaddy and Hostgator.Just what I needed,being able to pay online

  45. candy

    I work i lubumbashi DRC. I am a holder of an ecocash account. I had intended to receive my rental payments using ecocash and make transactions whenever i come to Harare. I came to Harare to get my econet fone on roaming and they assisted me and told me that i will be roamed as soon as i go out of Zimbabwe. I am not on roaming at all. I would like to use ecocash. Please Econet assist.

  46. audrey

    I am in south Africa and someone sent m money into my ecocash acc but I have forgotten my MasterCard pin, how do I reset my pin without econet services where I am

  47. Lee

    I recently used the card in south africa. it worked like a charm. No problems. charges were reasonable.

    1. Wilson

      At which bank machine

  48. Magaerth

    Why is it now i try to collect money from SOUTH ARICA IT DECLINE USING ECOCASH MASTER CARD

  49. miss dee

    I am in Germany and forgot my Debit Card Password, is it possible to retrieve a new password and how do i do that