Potea will help you find your lost bank cards hopefully before you even notice you’ve lost them

Trycolyn Pikirayi Avatar
Bank Cards, Debit cards and credit cards

As we go cashless, most of us are forced to go the debit card and mobile money route. Some of us already had bank cards and all, but when things were still ‘normal’, cards were often left to accumulate dust somewhere. People often just used them at ATMs once in a while because back then, we still could withdraw enough to last us a decently long time.

Now, well now we are forced to carry our debit cards everywhere. We practically do almost everything with them. As a result, the likelihood of losing them is now higher than it was say even a year ago. What do you do when you lose your card or when it gets stolen?

Last week, we received a tip on an automated lost and found network called Potea, Potea Lost and Found Zimbabwe to be precise. I say that because though the company is registered on a Hong Kong network (still hoping it’s not a crime to highlight that a company is not Zimbabwean), it was founded by a Zimbabwean and Potea Lost and Found Zimbabwe is the Zimbabwean subsidiary. Why? The answer to that has everything to do with Zimbabwe not being the best environment to start a company of that nature. I’m sure Tofara Dube, one of the founders will shed more light on that in the comments section if anyone is interested.

Anyway, how does Potea Lost and Found work? Well, one has to register their card on the Potea online platform so that once found, it can be traced back to them. Card registration is free. Once found, you will then pay a fee of $6 to have it transported back to you. As I see it, the success of the platform is heavily dependent on the Potea community, quick math would say that the more the people on the platform, the higher the probability of finding your lost card.

Therefore, to both get people on board as well as incentivise them to hand in lost items, Potea pays a fee of $3 to those who hand in lost cards once it’s reclaimed by the owner. Sounds ideal right?

Nonetheless, I still have my own reservations. Maybe the first would be why pay $6 if I can get a card replacement for free? I don’t know about other banks but Steward bank doesn’t charge you anything in terms of money to get a card replacement. It will however cost you time because its a 2 week process (for an isave account at least), it also will cost you energy with the police when trying to secure a police report since it’s a prerequisite for card replacement. So unless you’d rather pay $6 than go through that process, then Potea would be ideal for you.

But then again, with Potea, you are not guaranteed of finding the card within less than the 2 weeks (using the Steward bank example). It’s all by chance. The only way this guarantee will come about is when the platform becomes popular and has more users on board. But that’s another chicken and egg problem that Tofara and Rambai Chingwena (second co-founder) would have to figure out.

Maybe Steward bank wasn’t the best example right there. Mastercard and Visa cards sure should cost more to replace right? If so, then paying that $6 might make sense.

Also, my other reservation is on how many people after finding out they’ve lost their cards would rush to have it blocked? Rather how many would not? So basically by the time it’s found it’s likely already blocked. I didn’t hesitate bringing this to Tofara’s attention who in turn emphasised on how Potea’s grand plan is to find you your card before you even realise you’ve lost it. You know how you can lose something and only realise it hours later? Potea intends to be proactive.

Finally, the trustworthiness of the platform is key right? The platform is indeed an HTTPS, which spells secure right but sure it would take a little more than that to convince someone that their details are safe with them. (On that note, let me take this moment to gloat on how our Techzim site is now HTTPS in case you hadn’t noticed. In fact I’m touched if not)

Anyway, with all that in mind, would you use the Potea? What are your fears or reservations concerning this technology?


  1. Tofara

    Dear Techzim. I like your “chicken and egg” statement. Each person who signs up for the service is removing the chicken and egg problem, taking us towards an egg for breakfast and chicken for dinner.

  2. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

    How does one register a debit/credit card in their system? Not all cards have names on them, in fact, most “quick issue” VISA cards don’t. So to register, I assume you enter the confidential digits on the face of the card. Hmm, doesn’t sound safe at all.

    On another note, incentivising the return of lost property also incentivises “collection” of said property solely for the purpose of collecting the reward. It has the down side that, for example, employees can collect IDs and cards from lost and found bins at their workplaces just to cash in on the rewards. Meaning when you go to their lost and found bin, you won’t find your stuff and be advised to check on http://www.potea.co 😐 .And, even thieves could join to make a quick 3 bucks, on top of whatever they found in your wallet already.

    1. Tofara

      Thanks Imi Vanhu Musadaro for asking. The Potea system does not require the name that is on the card to find it, because it uses only the card number. So all cards can be registered. Secondly, the Potea system does not use human intervention because it is highly automated. Just as you use Whatsapp without someone at Whatsapp sending your message or having to read it first before sending the message, at Potea there is nobody in Potea who reads the card when the card is registered with Potea or when the card is found.

      As for thieves, think of this. I steal a card, and earn a finder’s fee today. Tomorrow I steal again, and earn finder’s fees. Potea subscribes to rules about payments and the system does not pay out to anonymous people. Only a daft thief would steal cards and create such a trail for himself / herself. Thanks once again for asking. We are available for more clarification.

      1. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

        With regards to the storage of card numbers, the security threat exists because a person (staff, a developer or even a hacker) can see these card numbers in your system if they gain access. Once a person has your VISA card number, it isn’t difficult to find a place to transact online where the CVV is not required. In my opinion, that risk alone outweighs the benefits of recovering my card.

        For thieves, there is no need for them to be anonymous. They can register with their real name. Even if I submit 20 cards and IDs I’ve “found”, if you suspect that I acquired them illegally, you must prove that it is the case. Which is difficult to do, so that minimises the risk of me being busted as a thief.

        1. Tofara

          Welcome again Imi Vanhu Musadaro. Many internet based platforms keep a person’s card details as part of a payment method, worldwide, and sometimes things go wrong. Potea keeps your card details (without the CVV), but not as part of a payment method. It is Potea’s duty to ensure that the data that it keeps on your behalf is not stolen. This data comprises more than just money cards, but includes passports (easily lost, but easily reported through Potea), identity documents (ditto), and other confidential details for people from about 23 countries at this stage. Worldwide some sites are prone to data theft, whereas others are rarely affected for various reasons including deployed security measures. We aim to remain in the rare minority group. Web security, as you may appreciate, is a complicated matter but we have definitely given it its due weighting. For example, Potea was an HTTPS site from day 1. That should indicate to you how we prioritised security, from day 1. (This is not to say that HTTPS is all the security that we require and deploy). Unfortunately I can’t stand on a mountain and shout to all and sundry about our current and proposed methods for preventing DoS, MiM etc attacks, because I would make it unnecessary for hackers to do any social engineering. We are unusual, with unusual products (of which you have only heard of a tiny fraction), and unusual methods. No matter what any site says, what matters at the end of the day is their record. While card information is confidential, the bank that issues it has to ensure that access by staff is on a need to know basis, and we have that approach too. On our part, most of our transactions have no human intervention at Potea, and access by staff is severely limited. We are highly focused on security, but being new, we know that time will try us very much, and we are ready. Whether you register your own cards with us or not, I invite you to watch Potea and keep in touch.

  3. Faiz

    I’m not so sure about the Steward bank statement though, my mum had lost her card, went with my brother to Avondale in the morning, by the afternoon she was in Gweru with her new card so couldn’t have been two weeks as you mentioned unless it’s not the same type of card? Savings Account?

    1. Trycolyn Pikirayi

      oh really? so yea it’s probably a different account. Confirmed with someone who has an isave acc. Let me specify that in the post.
      Thanks lots!