New EcoCash Merchant Payment UX Is Terrible

Tinashe Nyahasha Avatar
EcoCash Agents, Merchants, Bank to wallet, RBZ, win a cow promotion account hijacks

UX stands for user experience- just in case.

Almost two weeks ago EcoCash warned users that the platform would go offline for 24 hours over the weekend. They said this was to make the system better yada yada yada.

Besides the fact that things did not go too well, EcoCash introduced some new user experience features. In doing this there is one thing that they really botched up (maybe there are other things but this stood out): merchant payments. It’s disappointing because the mobile money company had made the process of paying in a supermarket using mobile money quite smooth.

The smooth process

Initially one had to go through a cumbersome USSD menu to pay for goods at the till. Then USSD long codes came along which allowed you to input all those steps at once and then just enter your PIN. EcoCash innovated further and integrated with merchants particularly big supermarkets.

The integration allowed shoppers to just enter their EcoCash number into a POS machine and the next thing they do is to just confirm the payment they would be making by entering their PIN onto a pop up on their EcoCash phone. It worked, simple!

NetOne’s OneMoney made things even simpler

In selected shops EcoCash rival OneMoney has made it possible for subscribers to pay without needing to whip out their phone from the pocket. They can enter their OneMoney number and PIN directly on the POS. In a supermarket situation, every half second counts! Well done OneMoney.

EcoCash moves 5 steps backwards

Now, if you go into a supermarket and you want to pay, the bigger chance is that the integration with EcoCash is not working at all. They have been struggling with this for close to two weeks now.

If the integration is working, you will input your EcoCash number into the POS as usual and of course you will look at your EcoCash phone to confirm by entering your PIN. Now you’ll be greeted with this:

Enter PIN to start? What do you mean start? If you just say “Ah well, let me just enter the PIN, you then get this message:

In the smooth process this information was in just one pop up that said hey you are paying so much to such and such merchant, enter your PIN to confirm. The PIN itself is the authentication. Why on earth is there a second step??

Well if you enter 1 to confirm this is what greets you:

The blared out stuff is just my name and the merchant I was paying. It so happened that the merchant I was paying needed the transaction ID for their record. The ID is not even shown in that summary screen above. It just says “n Next.” I had to wait for the SMS summary to come so I could retrieve the transaction ID. That information used to be in the confirmation under the smooth process.

Long codes were not spared

So, the screen shots I was sharing above are actually on using a pay merchant USSD long code (you know the *151*2*2… type thing). I just used them to explain how the direct merchant integration is working because they are working exactly the same. So you can’t escape this time consuming and ambiguous UX by using long codes, it’s the same medicine boss.

I thought long codes were not working the first time I saw the screenshot below after punching in a long code:

Yesterday, I heard my sister in law telling someone that EcoCash long codes were not working anymore. Why? Every time she punched in one of those she would be told to enter her PIN to start. I am sure there are a number of drops midway through transactions. I sure dropped a few when I thought I couldn’t long code.

Besides the drops, EcoCash is determined to make our supermarket experiences more dreadful than they are already. Perfect timing: holiday season is upon us, the queues will just get longer! If they are not careful, retailers will just put up signs that say “No EcoCash.” The strong network effects that have kept EcoCash ahead will start to unravel at that point and it will be “Hello OneMoney.”

No it’s not about security

I spoke to four EcoCash people about this and they all tried to sell me some line about this being for security. I refused to accept that and all four of them quickly admitted that there was no added security given by the extra steps whatsoever. It’s like waking up one day and banks are now saying you have to swipe your card 3 times before you enter your PIN for extra security. Come on!

Final note

Product development must not be led by engineers who have no idea how users use the product. Geeks that shop online should not be ultimately responsible for supermarket experiences. Well, even the online merchant payments are just as terrible now on EcoCash. So maybe it’s not the geeks that did this.

By the way, long codes even for peer to peer sending of money are now working like this. I know a number of people abandoned transactions when they were told to ‘enter PIN to start’ whilst they were mid way through… It’s not working, simple!



What’s your take?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. wokenman

    Longcodes actually still work, they just moved forward the stage where you put in your pin, and then aded a final confirmation option at the end. After you punch in your pin, you will find that it had already captured the merchant code. The old longcodes still work same as before except where main menu options werw changed, mainly zesa purchases where you now substitute the 6 in the code with a 7.

  2. Museyamwa vekuBuhera

    This was an incredibly well thought out and well executed DOWNGRADE. Congratulations to Natalie J. and her wonderful and highly intelligent team of engineers for a job well done. Am pretty sure the great effects of the downgrade will be felt for months to come. Really the highest of high fives to this bunch.

  3. Veronica

    When paying school merchant i encountered some problems. Where i usually put my child’s name and class on reference, it kept saying the characters are more than 40 and i should try again yet the characters were just 12. I finally succeeded after removing the space between the words. It used to work just fine with spaces in between. So now a reference reads MukudzeiECDB instead of Mukudzei ECDB

  4. Anyway Musenguri

    What happened if line allowed you to check balance but to buy it says user not found

  5. pop

    Ecocash should really seriously get their things in order. They should stop taking for granted how very vital the service has become to everyday life.

  6. Tino

    This is what we call a proper analysis we’ll done ecocash developers must be fired they have just killed a brand please also do one on CABS

  7. Tmk

    I remember mentioning this very issue the other day, Using ecocash to make payments is now the equivalent of kunoroora mukadzi.

    1st Prompt – Matekenya ndebvu
    2nd Prompt- Makandinzwa nani
    3rd Prompt – Rusambo


    1. Tinashe Nyahasha

      Hahaha, very funny

      Looks like they have changed back to the smooth process though. Let’s wait a little bit to see if it’s a permanent change.

  8. Anonymous

    EcoCash platform has really been downgraded by the so-called upgrade. Time consuming processes.

  9. justice mashinti

    Sounds like you cannot pay for data bundles any more using eco cash. Has anyone encountered the problem or its me alone.

  10. Anonymous

    I think you should just go back to what was there before,this upgrade like donwngrade is making us suffer,please do something quick,zvirikubhowa

  11. Gillian Muranda

    EcoCash has gone back to 2012-2013 so essentially they have moved back 6 years plus rather than advancing their system. They lost their COO and CTO mid of this year – – I guess they don’t know how to retain key people.

  12. Joseph

    Yesterday ecocash chewed money from all people willing to buy zesa tokens. Of course on Sunday (but also today Monday) there is not any support available.