Over 18% of early adopters using the EcoCash USD wallet, far more than we expected

Last month, Techzim conducted a survey to determine the level and form of EcoCash USD wallet usage. The survey was shared primarily with the Techzim community on WhatsApp and social media, as well as communities around Techzim-related platforms: Pindula and Soccer 24. Response to the survey was quite high with 441 respondents.

In general (and particularly in relation to the Techzim community), these targeted individuals are considered (uh by us) to be early adopters. Therefore their use of the products and services could be predictive of the future acceptability of the product by the general public BUT in some cases these people are just extreme geeks who will try things that (us) normal people will never touch with a pole of 30 meters. Anyway, let’s get to the survey results:

First: who are these respondents?

The demographic graphs above demonstrate that the sample was fairly representative, except for gender. Members of the Techzim community invite more women to our platforms. Education status and employment status show that indeed this group is more likely to be early adopters. This percentage of formal employment is higher than the 28% of the labor force reported by Zimstat, for example, which we can assume to be some level of privilege in the Zim context.

How did they use the EcoCash USD Wallet?

Impressive, not impressive?

The annotations to the tables above show that Ruth, Techzim’s head of research, was unimpressed with the usage numbers. The title of this article shows that I disagree with Ruth. I didn’t expect any usage above 10%, whether or not the sample was made up of early adopters and experimenters.

18.4% of respondents claim to have received money in their EcoCash USD wallet at least once before. I am impressed with this figure and all the figures above because I know that we Zimbabweans no longer trust the formal systems with our money. The central bank and the government have changed their policy of leaving us with our empty bags and leaving with our savings several times in just over 10 years. I thought the resounding answer to EcoCash USD (yes, I know they call it FCA) would be “no thanks”.

The sender dictates

The survey shows that the most common transaction is receiving money in the wallet. The other transactions are quite similar in frequency but just below the one receiving them. I think this shows that the USD wallet is likely funded by the choice of people sending money, especially those in the diaspora (our survey did not explicitly ask where the money was sent from) without perhaps asking the recipients how they would like to receive the money.

My wife has an uncle in the UK who occasionally sends money to his parents. He sends him the money to give to the parents. No matter how many times we tell this uncle to use service A or B to do it because it would be more convenient for my wife, he continues to use service C! At one point, we threatened to stop helping him with his transactions, but he called our bluff and continued to send through service C. Whoever sends the money decides!

Why do they use the Ecocash USD wallet?

Quite surprised by the prevalence of the word affordable when we asked our respondents what they liked about the EcoCash USD wallet. The 4% government tax made this service and any other formal service quite expensive. Do informal circuits cost even more?

Now the flip side – what’s the wallet sucking at?

Contradictions, contradictions: now, the biggest hurdle seems to be the fees. Unsurprisingly, issues around inconsistent government policies and how the formal system is more dangerous than the mattress are weighing on the extent to which people will adopt the EcoCash USD wallet. The shrinking of the EcoCash agent network is obviously a big deal to limit the usefulness of EcoCash in general and the results show that – it’s the government again. Customer support and other service issues mentioned above relate only to EcoCash and it is wise to pay attention to the sentiment expressed.

So what?

EcoCash and other formal players like Innbucks still have a chance as the economy becomes dollarized. Convincing these more tech and finance savvy people to use their service at this level in such a short time is an impressive feat in my opinion. They just need to figure out why exactly these people are using the service and work out the given reasons for not liking the service stated above and they might gain mainstream adoption again.

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