HARARE – Mobile money subscriptions during the first quarter of 2018 rose 6,35 percent to 5,5 million compared to 4,7 million during the same period in the prior year as use of mobile money continue to gain traction in the wake of cash shortages.
According to figures from telecoms regulator, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), all the mobile operators experienced growth in the number of mobile money subscriptions.
Since 2016, there has been a sharp increase in mobile money transactions for bill payments, salaries and wages, airtime purchases and merchant payments in the country.
Netone experienced the biggest growth in active mobile money subscriptions of 49 percent when compared to the last quarter 2017.
“In absolute terms however Econet increased its subscribers by 272 605, while NetOne and Telecel increased by 26 028 and 214 respectively,” said Potraz.
Mobile money transactions have become more popular and convenient due to the cash shortages that started in 2016. In light of this, authorities have also encouraged businesses and individuals to adopt cashless transactions.
“The current cash constraints have spurred mobile money bill and merchant payments to be used as an effective alternative mode of making payments.
“The use of bank to wallet transfers has stimulated the use of mobile money for effecting payment transactions. The growth trend is expected to continue as more people embrace mobile financial services,” said Potraz.
In terms of market share for active mobile money subscriptions, Econet lost 0,4 percent although it remained the dominant player commanding 96,8 percent of the total market share.
Telecel lost 0,1 percent to remain be at 1,6 percent of total market share while NetOne’s market share improved to 1,6 percent from 1,1 percent during the comparable prior year period.
In October, NetOne revamped its mobile money transfer service to OneMoney from OneWallet, which management at the firm said was ready to take on competition.
However, market watchers say the firm still has a long way in to claim a significant market share as it still has to grow its overall subscriber base as well as mobile money agents.
During the period under review, NetOne’s total active mobile agent outlets increased by 18 percent while Econet’s total active agents increased by 8 percent.
Telecel was the only operator that registered a decline in the active agent outlets after losing about 17 percent of its total active agents in both rural and urban areas.
“The decline in Telecel`s active agent outlets is attributable to liquidity constraints as agents require a cash float to effect over-the-counter transactions,” said Potraz.