Mobile money services provider, Ecocash has in the past three months shutdown over a thousand agent lines on account of flouting stipulated regulatory charges in the process disenfranchising customers, 263Chat Business has established.
Most Ecocash agents have normalized charging exorbitant fees on customers for “cashing out” their wallet balances into bond notes and coins.
In an interview with this publication, Ecocash general manager, Munyaradzi Nhamo said the company is embarking on a crackdown on unscrupulous Ecocash agents on the market.
“We are aware of some of the activities that some of our agents have been participating in and we have been penalizing agents. Within the past three months we have managed to penalize over a thousand agents whom we have closed who have been charging customers fees outside the regulated charges,” he said.
“If there are any customers who have been prejudiced by some of our agents can they kindly advise us and we take corrective action. It is our desire that whatever service that we provide as Ecocash complies with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) regulations and if there are any agents, you are welcome to advise us on either 114 or even drop any anonymous notes or visit any of our Ecocash office then we can pick it up,” added Nhamo.
According to figures on the Ecocash website, maximum charges on cash retrievals from one’s wallet cannot exceed five percent of the withdrawn amount.
However a market survey by 263Chat Business revealed that Ecocash agents are charging customers as high as 40 percent.
Furthermore, they have also introduced separate rates for bond notes and coins trading at 40 percent and 30 percent premiums.
This has hit hard on consumers whose earnings are unfairly eroded when they need to convert their Ecocash Wallet balances into bond notes and coins for petty expenditure such as transport fares.
Market watchers attribute the high premiums on the cash shortages prevailing in the country.
To compound matters, some businesses particularly those in the informal sector are now charging extra for payments made through mobile money.
Analysts have called on monetary authorities to craft and implement stringent measures against the scourge of exorbitant rates on mobile money citing this is likely to weigh down gains already made through this technology as a medium of financial inclusion.
Ecocash mobile money platform is the biggest in the country, boasting of close to 10 million subscribers.