A system upgrade by Zimbabwe’s biggest mobile money service has left cash-strapped consumers and businesses unable to transact, causing severe disruptions in a country that relies heavily on electronic platforms to do business.
Mobile and card payments account for about 98% of all money transactions, according to the Southern African nation’s finance ministry. Econet says it processes about seven million transactions daily in a country of about 14 million people.
The revamp of the Ecocash, a unit of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, was due for completion on 17 November, but the system has been plagued by instability. Technicians are working to restore services as soon as possible, Eddie Chibi, the CEO of Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe, which runs Ecocash, said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday.
“Some work is still continuing on the optimisation of a few components that involve integration to third parties,” Chibi said.
In the meantime, many retailers and other businesses in the capital, Harare, are only taking payments by cash or card.
The lack of cash is a legacy of hyperinflation a decade ago that forced the government to abandon its own currency. Authorities reintroduced the Zimbabwe dollar in June but has since lost almost 85% of its value against the greenback. — Reported by Ray Ndlovu, (c) 2019 Bloomberg LP