Zimbabwean Company Launches Debit Card
Zimbabwe’s telecommunications giant Econet has launched an international debit card with MasterCard in a move expected to cut reliance on banknotes in the cash-strapped country.
Econet said it expects to issue at least 3 million debit cards over the next five years, equal to roughly a quarter of Zimbabwe’s population.
The EcoCash mobile companion debit card, which is linked to its mobile money service, also is expected to increase financial inclusion in a country where most people do not work in the formal economy.
“This is the first time that physical MasterCard debit cards are available to people using mobile money services in Africa,” the companies said in a joint statement.
The card is aimed at reducing dependence on the use of cash in Zimbabwe, which ditched its own currency for U.S. dollars and South African rand five years ago at the peak of an economic crisis.
The dumping of the Zimbabwe dollar for foreign currencies in 2009 helped stabilize the economy and tame crippling hyperinflation. But it also has created new headaches, including a lack of small change, forcing people to use heavily spoiled notes.
Econet is Zimbabwe’s biggest telecommunications company with
9 million subscribers.
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