After a two day outage, Zimbabwe's leading and most dominant (by market share) mobile money provider, EcoCash, is back up and running after bringing most of the Southern Afrikan country's economy to almost a standstill. On 3 July 2018, many EcoCash Zimbabwe customers took to social media to express frustration as they were unable to transact or send money via the mobile money service across Zimbabwe.
In the fourth quarter of 2017, EcoCash is reported to have passed the milestone of processing $23 billion worth of mobile money transactions since its CCYY launch and also has over 90% market share as far as Zimbabwe's mobile money sector is concerned.
5 July 2018: Announcement by EcoCash that the mobile is now up and running.
"Dear Valued Customer, We apologise for service disruptions you may be experiencing in trying to transact on EcoCash. Our technical team is working to resolve the technical challenge and we will inform you as soon as normal service is restored. We regret any inconvenience caused."
Given EcoCash's dominance and the shortage of physical cash in Zimbabwe, the two day outage meant that simple day to day transactions such as pouring fuel or buying food were almost impossible to perform. With this outage, which EcoCash also blamed on "system maintenance" problems, the focus has fallen on how not only dominant EcoCash is in Zimbabwe but the importance of mobile money.
Punted as a solution for financial inclusion, mobile money solutions like EcoCash and M-Pesa in Kenya, capitalize on the formal banking sector's inability or unwillingness to provide services for the poor in Afrika. As a result, they have managed to find themselves millions of customers among the unbanked in Afrika given also how easily accessible they are.
They, however, have not been operating without criticism. Many analysts and some regulators have highlighted how mobile money services seem to be charging high per transaction fees than traditional banks.