Aiming to provide a new solution to the lack of currency in Zimbabwe, local startup Yo Time offers an internet platform that allows retailers to give change in the form of mobile airtime instead.
Following the abandonment of the Zimbabwean dollar back in 2009, numerous hard currencies can be used to pay for goods in Zimbabwe, including the widely preferred US dollar. A problem arises, however, when consumers’ purchases fall short of a whole-dollar amount, because small change is in chronically short supply in the nation. Aiming to provide a new solution to this problem, local startup Yo Time offers an internet platform that allows retailers to give change in the form of mobile airtime instead. Currently, shoppers whose purchases don’t add up to a whole-dollar amount are often forced either to buy an extra item to make the total round up, or to accept a credit note that’s typically good only at the store that issued it. With Yo Time, however, participating retailers can issue change in the form of PIN-less airtime credited directly to the shopper’s mobile phone number. The service can handle credits of any value between 10 cents and USD 50. Once sent, the shopper receives the airtime within eight seconds along with a confirmation message. Yo Time has already been embraced by several leading retail chains and supermarkets in Zimbabwe, the company says. A model to bring to other currency-strapped nations around the world?