Local teleco, Orange Botswana last week became the first hub-enabled cross operator service for Orange Money in Africa after partnering with Zimbabwe’s EcoCash.
EcoCash is a member of Econet Wireless – a brand of one of Zimbabwe’s largest provider of telecommunications services, to facilitate real time mobile digital payments between the two countries.
Through its mobile money services, “Orange Money”, the local teleco has announced a partnership with Ecocash, paving way for a digital money transfer between Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Orange Botswana has been setting the tempo for alternative digital financial solutions, outpacing competitors like Mascom’s MyZaka. Orange Money allows for its subscribers to deposit money via its sprawling vendors that include the retail giant Choppies, also through Botswana Post and small retailers, and also to make transfers and payments through the service. The mobile network operator earlier this year signed a partnership with Standard Chartered Bank Botswana to launch the Bank2Wallet service. Through the Bank2Wallet service, Standard Chartered Bank customers will now be able to transfer money from their bank account to an Orange Money Wallet.
The new service is expected to deepen financial inclusion of nationals of the two neighboring countries.
The company states that this launch marks the first ever hub-enabled cross-operator service for Orange Money in Africa.
The service allows Zimbabweans living in Botswana, to use their Orange Money digital wallet to send money back home in real-time, directly into an EcoCash mobile wallet, which is powered by TransferTo’s global mobile payments network.
“As part of our broader financial inclusion and diversification strategy, Orange Money seeks to expand its services to offer a cheaper, secure and more convenient International Money Transfer payment infrastructure from Botswana to the whole Southern Africa region and beyond,” Orange Botswana Chief Executive Officer Patrick Benon said.
Benon added that the partnership is aligned to their innovation efforts aimed at offering their customers more cost-effective solutions to facilitate both cross-border and domestic money transfers.
He further emphasized that this new partnership represents convenience at its best and since the introduction of the service the company has realised a steady growth in the number of Orange Money subscribers who are of Zimbabwean origin.
Still Peter De Caluwe, CEO of TransferTo, noted that, “We continue to expand and accelerate our efforts to create innovations that allow direct transfers between digital wallets, and so taking cross-border transfers to a whole new level. Our goal is to provide our customers with simple but effective solutions which give them the convenience they need, as well as being a conduit for economic development wherever we operate.”
The new partnership follows projections by the World Bank that cash shortage will depress Zimbabwe’s medium-term growth prospects. The neighbouring country’s growth rates for 2018/19 are being revised down to less than 1 percent, sharply negative in per capita income terms.
The hard pressed Zimbabwean economy has forced many economically active Zimbabweans to seek better opportunities elsewhere, particularly in Botswana and South Africa, where prospects are much better than home.
The cash shortages of the past few years in Zimbabwe resulted in a wholesale embrace of digital banking, largely out of necessity. Mobile phone ownership is high in both urban and rural Zimbabwe: 85 percent of rural Zimbabweans have access to mobile phones in their households, and that rate is as high as 98 percent in urban Zimbabwe. The Ecocash mobile-enabled funds transfer service has become a staple of daily life in Zimbabwe, to the extent that electronic money now accounts for 70 percent of all payments in the country.