Zimbabwe’s Competitions and Tariffs and Commission (CTC) has begun a preliminary investigation into allegations of uncompetitive behaviour and monopolistic practises in the mobile money sector by the country’s largest cellular operator, Econet Wireless. According to a report from local newspaper The Herald, the allegations centre on Econet’s decision in February this year to set up a new Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) gateway – which allows banks using the ZimSwitch money transfer service to access Econet’s EcoCash mobile money platform – rather than using its existing USSD gateway for value added services (VAS). Banks are claiming that this leaves Econet free to charge them higher prices, the report suggests, and this will push up the cost of their ZimSwitch mobile money services when compared to the EcoCash platform.
Earlier this year it was reported by news portal TechZim that the country’s financial regulator, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), was investigating allegations that Econet was automatically registering subscribers to its EcoCash mobile money service. According to unnamed sources, by auto-registering clients to EcoCash, Econet is allegedly in violation of certain provisions of the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act, including parts of the regulation which deal with customer identification requirements. The RBZ has not commented on the matter since the reports emerged.