By Edward Makuzva
The State onwed mobile telecommunications service provider, Netone has reintroduced electronic airtime which can be accessed through its online money platform, OneMoney, aggregators, and other retail and service providers. The electronic airtime acquisition platform is a means to curb the spread of the surge in COVID 19 pandemic as the physical version involves too much contact.
“The Covid-19 pandemic, in as far as it affected the way in which people interact, ultimately affected the patterns of behaviour with regards to airtime top up options. The promotion of social distancing in an effort to reduce the spread of the corona virus, reduced the consumers’ desire for physical airtime top up, in favour of safer contact-less options. Electronic airtime platforms have thus become more and more valuable in today’s life.” The mobile operator’s Marketing Manager Mrs Chisveto said.
The airtime adoption also emanates from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s call for reduced usage of airtime scratch cards which have been a dominant feature of black market trading.
“The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe – Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has recently applied measures to curb the abuse of physical airtime vouchers, advocating for 100% use of electronic airtime. This move has encouraged Mobile Network Operators to rethink their airtime distribution models for the convenience of customers”, Chisveto explained.
Chisveto revealed that NetOne has employed various digitalized airtime processes that allow for real-time distribution through multiple channels including web, SMS, USSD and application interface with the first service offering for electronic airtime coming through the mobile financial services solution provided by NetOne’s OneMoney. The payments platform which can be accessed by dialing *111# allows customers to be able to purchase airtime and bundles for themselves or others of any amount and gives you access to all of NetOne’s bundle packages in local currency while the *519# USSD platform allows for the transfer of airtime to any number on the NetOne network whereas, the website interface allows for the purchase of pin less airtime as well as NetOne’s bundle offerings.
Netone has also partnered with aggregators like Mindroid, Afrispark, Clicknpay, Webdev, Hot Recharge, Esolutions, FN Solutions and Think Stack who sell the airtime on their online platforms or roboted Whatsapp and are currently offering discounts and competitions.
“ In addition to this some of these aggregators have also developed their own USSD codes for easier access to the service for example Mindroid has USSD *544#, Clicknpay has a Whatsapp bot: 0785043887 and USSD *788# and Webdev has the Whatsapp bot: 2638644729100.To sweeten the deal some of our aggregators are running promotions. Mindroid is giving a 5% discount for purchasing airtime of any amount from their platform. Clicknpay is having the ‘All in One’ promotion where if you purchase airtime worth ZWL500 or more between now and December you are entered into grand draw, where you stand a chance to win various exciting prizes including phones, airtime, data bundles, solar kits and a motor vehicle.” The Marketing Manager also said.
The mobile operator has also partnered with convinience stores, service stations, fast food outlets and pubs tto enhance customer convinience.
“Finally, we cannot talk of rethinking service innovation if the organisation does not integrate its product offerings into the general routine of its customers for convenience. This is why service stations also have convenience stores, fast food outlets have drive-throughs’ and Pubs now have kitchens/restaurants”, Chisveto explained.
NetOne has worked to place itself in the socially normal everyday routines of its customers by creating airtime access points through Supermarkets and Banks.
“NetOne customers can afford the luxury of comfort by being able to obtain airtime for themselves or others through the following banks: Agribank, BancABC, First Capital Bank, CABS, CBZ, Ecobank, FBC Bank, Nedbank, Meikles My Cash, Metbank, NBS, NMB, POSB, Stanbic, Standard Chartered, Stewart and ZB Bank. They can also access EVD vouchers from the following retail chain stores: SPAR, OK Zimbabwe, TM Pick ‘n’ Pay and Powersales.” Chisveto added.
The smart move adds to Netone’s commitment to developing customer acquisition and retention strategies that accelerate growth and strengthen customer relationships through making sure that its customers are not inconvenienced, stay connected, hense revamping the service.