ZIMBABWE'S leading mobile network provider, Econet Wireless (Econet), has partnered global remittance company World Remit to unveil an international money transfer product to be known as Ecocash Diaspora.
At the launch event in Harare Econet Services CEO Darlington Mandivenga said the new product would bring in at least US$600 million revenue to Econet in its first year of operation based on 2013 remittance figures.
"Like I was saying, a third of all remittances coming into Zimbabwe is expected to be on the platform and based on last year's figures which indicate that US$1, 8 billion was remitted into Zimbabwe, a third of that will be on Ecocash Diaspora," Mandivenga said.
World Remit north America director Rob Ayers said the new product would have access to 35 foreign countries at inception with a view to expand.
"If you want to send €300 for instance, Western union will charge you €20, but World Remit charges less than €10,"said Ayers.
He said his company provides services in 25 countries across Africa and 100 countries in the world. "Traditional means of remittances like Western Union go through a third party agent which means the customer will take risk, but this will be direct, there is no third party risk," Ayers said.
He said one can send money using debit cards, credit cards or directly from bank accounts.
In the case of remittances to Zimbabwe, Ayers said 50% are expected to be on mobile platforms.
Ecocash CEO Cuthbert Tembedza said the new service was complimentary to the company's mobile money platform, Ecocash.
"It is not just about the Zimbabweans outside the country, but it gives access to the entire world so we have access to billions of people," Tembedza said.
He said the service would instantly route money into the receiver's account and send confirmation messages to both the sender and receiver after which the receiver can cash in at any one of the 13 000 plus Ecocash agents doted across the country.
"It has guaranteed lowest costs averaging 5% from world remit countries of origin," he said.
"Normal Ecocash tariffs apply for the service, meaning there are no additional charges."
Tembedza also said Ecocash was involved in discussions with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to review limits for Ecocash transactions and Ecocash wallet balances.
"The central bank has agreed to increase the limits from US$3 000 to US$10 000 for people who have accounts and also to approve transactions that are above limits on an individual basis," he said.
Econet Group chief finance officer Roy Chimanikire last month said company revenues for the year ended February 2014 grew 8% to US$752,7 million after 307% increase in Ecocash revenue and a 10% growth in subscribers to 8,8 million.
He said Ecocash has handled over US$4,5 billion since it was launched with over 170 million transactions processed since its launch in 2011.
Over 1 million accounts have been opened since it was launched with over 10 000 agents countrywide at the time of reporting eagerly May.
Data revenue also went up 62% to US$72 million.
Non voice revenues grew to US$139 million up from US$69 million in 2013.
Econet reported a 14,7% slump in after tax profit to US$119,4 million for the year ended February 2014 owing to a growth in depreciation and amortisation.
The network provider said depreciation and amortisation as a percentage of revenue increased by 4% in the period under review.
Profit margin slid from 20% in 2013 to 16% in the current year due to higher capital costs, according to Econet. Revenues for the period stood at US$752,7 million, 8% up from US$695,8 million prior year.
Earnings before interest tax and amortisation stood at US$332,2 million, 10% up from US$302, 4 million in 2013.