If I Were Telecel Or NetOne, Here’s What I Would Do To Fight Ecocash Dominance

Tinashe Nyahasha Avatar
NetOne, ZImbabwean telecoms, NetOne privitisation, private

It is difficult to imagine Ecocash being dethroned from the mobile money throne in Zimbabwe. Every time a stastic about mobile money or payments in general is given the situation seems hopeless for the competition.

Make no mistake, Ecocash are not where they are by accident. They were not first or second with mobile money in Zimbabwe but once they launched their brand became synonymous with mobile money. Seven years later and their position is much more consolidated.

This was achieved very deliberately and they are still making very deliberate decisions to become way more than we see right now. In fact, if the Ecocash strategy interests you can buy the easy to read Techzim Insights’analysis of the Ecocash journey from before they launched all the way to the future of this product/business.

The analysis is of interest to people in the payments space, tech, entrepreneurs and project teams tasked with launching a new product or improving an existing one. Of course anyone who wants to learn the new business strategies of the digital era will find value too. Anyway, back to it:

The race may not be over

Mobile money is still growing in Zimbabwe and the time for service providers to position themselves is right now whilst we still have the cash problems and currency issues we have. This is why OneMoney and Telecash have to be re-imagined and put into the ring more decisively. The fight is not yet over.

Copy is not a dirty word

Strive Masiyiwa himself talks about being a fast follower. When you look at the innovations that have really mattered for his business empire you realise that none of them were original. Original is overrated. There can only be one original TV, car, aircraft…. The original is just of historical significance otherwise the follow up makers of TVs, cars, aircraft… are making lots of money right now: imitators of imitators of imitators…

Telecash and OneMoney should copy Ecocash in allowing non subscribers of Telecel and NetOne respectively to register for the mobile money service. By doing that they will pre-empt  the Ecocash sting and take the competition question away from network effects to service offerings.

Why is this important?

The move by Ecocash to make their services available to non Econet subscribers has revealed the true definition of what mobile money is. Analysis of Ecocash right from the launch shows you that from the onset, Strive Masiyiwa knew that Ecocash was not merely a mobile money service for his MNO.  That lesson was lost on the competition.

Yes, initially Econet took advantage of Ecocash to lure customers to their network but Ecocash was always independent. That was the most crucial decision. Now that Ecocash has saturated more or less their parent company’s subscribers the only way to grow is to have those subscribers transact more and use their service more as well as to register non Econet subscribers. They have started with that now.

Telecash and NetOne should quickly allow registration of non subscribers to their respective MNO’s and then promote their services like crazy.

How did Ecocash recruit customers at the beginning again? They gave every new customer a dollar! That is the scale of things their competition has to do once they allow anyone to register. Give someone who has an Econet line a strong reason to register for OneMoney for example.

Go beyond

OneMoney and Telecash should go beyond what Ecocash has done. They should allow a non subscriber to access their services without the need for internet connection as is the case with Ecocash right now. How do they do this? I don’t know but they can figure it out. I have fuzzy ideas in my head, I am sure they can come up with even better.

Continuing to define mobile money in MNO terms and tying down the service to the enterprise is futile if NetOne and Telecel want to entertain the idea of a comeback.

Ecocash has just launched the Chakachaya ne Ecocash promotion for the second edition running. Unfortunately for NetOne and Telecel the new reality this time around is that this promotion is now directly targeting their subscribers as well becuase their subscribers can be Ecocash customers as long as they have a smart phone. The only way to fight back is to throw exactly the same punch.

Will Telecel and NetOne do it?

They probably won’t. Most times business decisions are made emotionally from a position of pride. This is the one time that human nature has to be challenged and subdued. As Nike aptly puts it: Just do it!

To buy the Techzim Insights on Ecocash write-up simply send the fee of $4.99 to Techzim Merchant Number 83688 and then send an email with the reference number to admin@techzim.co.zw



  1. Wedlock

    With all due respect your suggestion is a bit shallow in my own opinion. Giving a $1 incentive certainly won’t induce future usage of either OneMoney or Telecash. Yes, people can register for it because they want a $1 first but that doesn’t guarantee future usage of the services. Secondly, Ecocash has built a very solid ecosystem which it comfortably sits now. For OneMoney & Telecash it simply means they have to invest in intergration with banks, acceptability with retailers & other service providers first so that the service becomes a part & parcel of the payments ecosystem in the country. However, as distant followers, they will find it very tough to exceed what Ecocash so as to lure me from Ecocash to use their service. In other words, they should not copy Ecocash but rather MPesa in coming up with more service offerings which goes beyond what Ecocash offers at the moment. As an example, OneFusion was such a product which we all considered to be very good & it gave many of us a reason to buy a NetOne line. We should be lured by something very attractive. That’s the only way to sustain the growth of the 2 money money services. How & what kind of innovation to introduce, it’s all up to them.

    1. Tinashe Nyahasha

      My point exactly. Note that I said they have to do things at the3 scale of how Ecocash overtook them in the first place i.e $1 incentive not necessarily that exactly. The biggest point I was trying to make is that the two MNO’s have to imagine their mobile money services as separate from their telco operations but as simply payments solutions. They still have a chance because the space is still growing and changing

  2. tenson chaibva

    if u want a job at these 2companies u just dented your hopes

    1. Tinashe Nyahasha

      And there I was thinking I am putting my CV out there…

      1. Digital Services Preacher

        Very shallow article because all your empty strategies will simply perpetuate Ecocash’s dominance in the mobile money space. I guess there is a lot NetOne and Telecel can do around turning the tables….They now need to do more on the value addition side of things outside providing the mundane functionality. Case in point accepting payments for insurances packages and going all the way to post the transaction to the back-end systems and advise the customer on their next payment due dates etc…..something like that.

        1. Tinashe Nyahasha

          My observation is that business is actually simple and not complex that’s why the majority fail. Truth is usually so shallow that you pass it by as you drill dip into the earth’s core.
          I do agree with you on transforming the services from being ‘mobile money’ to being payments solutions. I think making the services simpler and not more complex is key

          1. vajohnifi3d

            I totally agree with you. Especially what the true essence of your article is about. You can never be successful in a market were a product is dominant without matching it and doing better. Yes you can add special out of this world services but still you shouldn’t give a user a reason to go back. It’s just simple yet at the same time complicated because of how netone and telecel are run.

            1. Tinashe Nyahasha

              Finally someone agrees with me. Yes it’s simple yet complex. It’s easy for someone in my chair to ‘see’ things and offer way forward but hey given the job to actually do I may run away scared

              1. vajohnifi3d

                Well I’m a software developer, I can tell you one thing. If you find yourself having more people giving you praise than criticism especially in Zimbabwe then you must be doing something wrong. So take each negative post as a good thing.

          2. Derek Butt

            Well said brother you have put it nicely……….be SMART in doing business!

    2. vajohnifi3d

      I genuinely doubt that. Even the FBI hires the hackers that get into their system. If they want to grow and start earning profits it’s better to hire people like him rather than cheerleaders.