Why GetCash Will Fail at beating Ecocash

This first appeared on the www.innovation-village.com


Newspapers and Tech blogs recently announced the acquisition of Nettcash by Brainworks Limited (the same company who own GetBucks and GetSure) who have since re-branded the mobile money service to Getcash. This development makes me curious; I would like to know if this is the biggest potential market coup d’état in Zimbabwe’s mobile money market or if they made an poor investment of almost yahoo proportions. I am curious for a couple of reasons: 1) this is a 1.3 million dollar acquisition of a company whose future was already relatively questionable, 2) the company that is selling it’s majority stake recently opened its Africa Headquarters in South Africa and is a company in constant search of viable business and so their letting go of Nettcash is not a good sign.

With the liquidity crunch that has hit Zimbabweans and the looming bond note introduction it is obvious that there is room for mobile money to flourish. If done right with the right market integrations, mobile money could bring the key to Zimbabweans transitioning through this financial period safely. That being said, is there room for other mobile money organization to flourish given the presence of the giant that is Econet’s Ecocash? When we speak of Zimbabwean mobile money Econet is much more than the elephant in the room, they are the Mammoth in the room. Ecocash having proven to be a cash cow for the leading telecoms company and said to have grown by 19% in revenue in the last financial period while other revenues dropped. Given its position in the current market strength of Econet will they let a new competitor in so easily.

Before the rebrand, the service known as NettCash though not yet performing greatly, was gaining headway. It was slowly making traction with urban and rural areas alike. It was nice to see the growing numbers of agents that were popping up around the city as this meant progress. Now under new management and a new name, GetCash looks to be a great way to integrate your payments solutions allowing you to pay bills, make bank transfers and send money across all networks. All this is done through the new GetCash mobile app, available for Android and iOS. I was sure that given enough time and consistency on NettCash’s part they could have become a big competitor in the mobile money market. GetCash however, will not become that mostly due to their core operation method and other things. Below are 4 things GetCash will need to do if they hope to challenge Ecocash.

What will GetCash Need to Overthrow Ecocash

  1. Lose the Mobile Application. According to NewsDay, GetCash is targeting the financially excluded. That is obviously a joke. The change to GetCash meant letting go of the USSD side of doing business. Of course the codes were long, but THAT was the real targeting of the financially excluded. For one, for a person to use GetCash they need to have a smartphone and have internet data. For a country like Zimbabwe where most people are still running android 2.2.3 (Gingerbread) they went ahead to make an app that works from 4.0.3. The lesson to learn is that the biggest company on the mobile money market (Ecocash) has made sure their apps still works from 2.1 AND it has two apps, one that uses data (I prefer that one honestly) and a USSD based app that just takes the work of typing all that *151*…. That is real convenience. If that app was made by someone who had been studying the local app development and usage market instead of the international one, this boo boo would have been avoided. GetCash went in the opposite direction from their goal of, “…targeting the financially excluded” when the decided to go with the mobile app as the only way to use the service. #BringBackOurUSSD
  2. Have a Comprehensive network of agents. If having lots of agents in lots of places meant just that then this would not be a problem. The unfortunate bit is that from the operating structure I have seen from NettCash (and I am guilty of not putting in much research into them) they mostly get individuals who set up stalls much like the Econet green kiosks as well as integrating supermarkets into their agent database. Admirable as that may be it would not be enough. So GetCash would need more people to be interested in becoming agents but interest is not enough. It would need a lot of liquid individuals to be interested as they would need to have money to process transactions and therein lies the problem. Not too many people are liquid enough to keep coffers for Ecocash, TeleCash and GetCash greased. However because they decided to be smart and align themselves to supermarkets angling on how they are a cross network platform where all phones in the country can become customers…well that could work. As of the launch there were reports of them being 3000 strong each on the agents and merchant side of business. There is hope yet.
  3. Extensive marketing for product placement.The product is out now, it has been out for a while. Sometimes people forget that Ecocash had a hard time growing their subscriber base, because Econet subscribers were not and are still not equal to Ecocash. GetCash will have to be visible everywhere, the downfall of the two existing competitors (1Wallet and TeleCash) has been not being visible enough to us. GetCash needs to market hard! I will give Brainworks Limited props because in terms of marketing the change to GetCash, they did that very well. News of the change is everywhere, the launch itself had very important people present. Now All it needs is to market to us, the important people. EDIT: I have been seeing a lot of GetCash signage and agents around town. They are going hard with this one which is great i can see it yield great results in the big scheme of things.
  4. Extensive marketing for educational purposes. I’m sure some will wonder why i split Extensive Marketing into two. The truth is that as the customer base grows people will need to learn how to use the application. I generally think that Ecocash is easy to use and still many years after its inception, there is still a lot of importance that goes into teaching subscribers how to use it. That will be just as important with GetCash.

GetCash is still very young. Brainworks seems like a generally dynamic organization capable of taking in what the market has to say and making use of that. I definitely do not have all the answers but this is worth giving a try.

Let’s continuously improve. #kaizenYOU

You may also want to read:

TechZim – Brainworks Acquires Zimbabwean Mobile money service Nettcash

NewsDay – GetCash Launches Mobile Money App

Brainworks rebrands Nettcash to GetCash, launches mobile money service




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