There is a new “app” (web app only, no smartphone app yet) which is promising to make payment of services and products easier. Currently visiting the Pay4App website you are greeted by this huge and bold statement:
Zimbabwe’s easiest way yet to buy your subscriptions & airtime with EcoCash!!
Also you will notice that below this huge logo you can buy Touchbase, Africom, Brodacom and Skype Credits using the app! Well, Brodacom may shock you as to what it is doing there! Didn’t it go bust?
First of all, you need to register to enjoy the app! You have to enter your email details and the email is sent to you with further instructions. You have to have enough airtime to send an sms as one of the instructions is to send an Ecocash linked number to the said number.
I think this step introduces a cut point! If you don’t have an email, the you cannot proceed. There are thousands of people who do not have email addresses now that you can open a facebook account with your phone number only. It’s that large group that has already been excluded.
However, the is a glimmer of good news though, The app represantative I talked to pointed out that they are building an SMS only version of the app!
He wrote “We are working on an SMS-only version, so that everything happens in your hands.”
Now that you are registered, say, you have to go to some settings page where you specify which airtime or credits you intend to buy with the app. Log in back to the app and go to your settings page!
Once there, you can specify just one service though say you specify “Africom Airtime Only”, each time you make a transfer to Pay4App account ( a merchant code is provided), they will know that you want Africom airtime and your transaction is quickly processed.
However, if you specify that you intend to purchase multiple services credits from say Africom and Brodacom, you will be sent an e-mail each time you transfer airtime from your Ecocash wallet to Pay4App Account. The email contains links with items you can purchase.
This step also emphasises the need for an SMS app. We know that Opera Mini and the Overzealous Nokia web browser can format pages until some links can’t be opened in emails. In such a scenario, will one have to wait until morning to buy airtime?
How many people are using Pay4App?
However, Sam the Pay4App fellow could not shed more light on the volume of trade they are handling. He pointed out that they intend to bring more services.
Is this app good?
This app really shines when you are on the Africom network say, There are not much Africom airtime vendors and you may find yourself in really a desparate need for airtime. You have to simple and easily use your phone to buy the airtime. I for one know of only two places were you can buy Africom airtime in Bulawayo and it would be a pain for me to cross ten kilometres just to get there.
The way forward for the App?
The app reaally needs a mobile app! Mobile apps or easy payment solutions are the next big thing in Zimbabwe. EcoCash has left this gap wide open and if Pay4App can fast leverage on that gap, they are set to make a huge killing.
It is not easy to get into a Kombi and pull out your phone, enter USSD codes, merchant codes and all just to pay five rands. Neither will a shop with a huge queue allow poeple to use the complex USSD way that is so much loved by EcoCash to pay since it’s very time consuming.
Pay4App really needs to beg (yes, EcoCash can be stingy) Econet to open their API’s so that they can develop a truly easy to use platform.