EcoCash, Econet’s Mobile Money service, has signed a deal with MasterCard to roll out Mobile Money Companion debit card in Zimbabwe to reduce cash dependence and increase financial inclusion.

Under the terms of the agreement, over three million MasterCard debit cards will be issued to mobile money provider EcoCash’s customers in the next five years.

MasterCard said this is the first time that physical MasterCard debit cards are available to people using mobile money services in Africa, and is one of the largest launch of secure EMV Chip and PIN payment cards in Zimbabwe until now.

Econet CEO Douglas Mboweni said: "The adoption of electronic payments is critical to Zimbabwe’s economic development.

"Reducing dependency on cash while increasing financial inclusion benefits the whole country including the government, industry sectors like tourism and retail, merchants and citizens."

Using an EcoCash MasterCard debit card, EcoCash customers can withdraw money from MasterCard-licensed ATMs and pay for goods and services at millions of merchants that accept MasterCard payment cards, both in Zimbabwe and globally.