‘At least, if you’re hunted by the cops, there’s no proof of transaction in hard currency,’ say sex workers using Econet’s mobile money services in Harare
Sitting on the edge of a bed, Zimbabwean sex worker Locardia Ncube explains why clients now often pay her in mobile money rather than hard cash.
“It’s increasing because it’s easier,” says the 26-year-old, wearing a tight white dress. “If he doesn’t have cash, he just sends the money. There’s no problem with that. I will go to collect it tomorrow.”
Ncube is among growing numbers of women and girls caught in the economy’s downward spiral and forced to turn to sex work, which is illegal in Zimbabwe. She charges as little as $10 per session in a down-at-heel flat she rents with four other women plying the same trade in central Harare.
Meanwhile, the streets of the capital are dotted with the logo of EcoCash, the southern African nation’s most popular payment service on mobile phones. Its 15,000 agents nationwide can convert credit sent to phones into US dollars – adopted as Zimbabwe’s favoured currency in 2009, following record hyperinflation – and vice versa.