I just spoke to someone nice at Dialog and they gave me a run down of eZ Cash, their mobile money solution. The most interesting fact was that over 425,000 people have registered with the system in less than a month. That includes me, but unlike me, most of them have done one or two transactions. Mobile money is a big deal for all Sri Lankans, be they people without bank accounts, people who want simpler shopping, or small and online businesses trying to earn. It’s encouraging that this important system has reached a critical mass so fast.
How It Works
We can all imagine how mobile money works. Your phone has money stored on it and you use it to buy stuff and pass money around. This is how Dialog eZ Cash works in detail:
- Dial #111# on your Dialog phone
- Set a PIN
- Go to an eZ Cash outlet and actually put some money in
I’ve got up to step two but I’m yet to physically deposit money. But I have been seeing the eZ Cash stickers everywhere. According to Dialog, it’s now available at over 10,000 eZ Reload outlets, ie kades and communication centers. That should expand to their 30,000 strong network over time, but that’s still pretty damn available for one month in.
All of these details you can read on their site, I’m just giving you a skim.
So what? How is this better than cash, or credit cards? Right now the main market for eZ Cash seems to be Bottom Of The Pyramid users, ie, most Sri Lankans. These are people who may not have bank accounts and probably don’t have credit cards. For example, children of rural parents who’ve come to Colombo to work. How do they send money back home? Or people that don’t have Internet banking or credit cards. How do they pay bills without wasting time and money? Right now that’s stuff that eZ Cash enables them to do with their phone.
eZ Cash also enables a whole new way of doing business, especially for average peeps. If your trishaw driver has eZ Cash, you can pay him via the mobile. No more onerous scrounging around for change. If you’re booking a hotel in Unawatuna they can ask for a deposit over the phone. That’s all game changing stuff. Seriously, think about all the stuff we could do better if we didn’t have to physically walk cash around.
I’m most excited for when A) more stores beyond kades start accepting it and B) when online stores start accepting it. Actually I’m MOST excited for when I can start accepting mobile payments online because – in the absence of PayPal (receiving) in Sri Lanka – small businesses have to really struggle to set up online.
Honestly, this is a long time coming and it’s a really good thing. AFAIK, Dialog has been negotiating this system with the Central Bank for over four years, but that it’s finally live and out to almost half a million people is a big thing for Sri Lanka, for rural/urban, consumer/business. Mobile money opens up so many opportunities for everyone, including me. So check it out, if you have a Dialog SIM just dial #111#. Send me some money.