[jumbotron heading=”What matters? Reliability or affordability?”]There are several reasons why people opt to use one mobile money MNO (Mobile Network Operator) apart from the fact that it’s their default carrier. MTN Mobile Money, Airtel Money, M-Sente and Orange Money; aside from some networks being more reliable than others when it comes to mobile transactions, perhaps its time we ask ourselves which is more affordable, or can we say which is best for you?[/jumbotron]
The mobile money service footprint is as good as your Mobile network’s coverage. Today, the mobile money market in Uganda is dominated by, MTN’s mobile money at 7.3 million subscribers but it is safe to say that Airtel money is close behind and giving MTN a run for their dime. Not only did MTN launch the first service, in March 2009, but it still dominates the m-transaction space, with an estimated 50% market share of mobile subscribers in Uganda.
Please note: In this article, Africell’s mobile money service will be referred to as Orange Money as we wait for the company to re-launch their own re-branded service.
|Mobile Money Service||Mobile Subcribers (MIllions)||Date of Mobile Money Launch||Mobile Money Subscribers||No of Mobile Money Agents|
|MTN Mobile Money||10.4||March 2009||7.3||42,000*|
|Airtel Money||7.5||31st Jan 2012||3.4||12,000*|
|ULT M-sente||2||25th March 2010||1.3||N/A|
|Africell Money||0.6||15th Jan 2013||0.5||400*|
* Estimated Values Table 1: Mobile Money Statistics in Uganda (Q1 2015)
Sending Money Within Network to Registered users
Sending Money to Unregistered & Other Networks
Withdraw Money from Agent
MTN’s charges are the highest in this category and you can’t really blame them, since they have the biggest number of mobile transaction agents. From the data, it’s clear that not only is it cheaper to withdraw from an Airtel Money agent, as the carrier has a wider range of withdraw options unlike other MNOs.
Paying for Bills, Goods & Services
When it comes to paying for bills, it seems MTN has a better deal than any other Operator even if Orange Money is cheaper overall. M-Sente proves to be the most expensive, such as when you want to pay for goods worth UGX 400,000 it will cost you UGX 2,500 on UTL’s M-sente while on other networks it’s half that figure. They however try to keep the charges flat at UGX 2,500 for any goods worth UGx 125, 000 and above. In this case users have to be strategic, for goods less than UGX 125,000 you are better off using Orange Money or MTN Mobile money. Airtel Money and MTN’s charges are not far off either.
Paying for Utility Bills
Whereas MTN, Africell/Orange and Airtel have the option to pay for utility bills like electricity and water, UTL mentions nothing about it in their tariff plan. You can also renew your subscription for pay TV on MTN Mobile money and Airtel Money unlike other MNOs and these two telecom giants will charge you the same amount for these m-transactions. You are better off paying your utility bills with Orange Money keep in mind it’s only limited to only water and electricity bills. For other bills like pay TV and Multiplex parking you have to use MTN’s mobile money.
Withdraw from ATM
MTN, Airtel and UTL will give you an option of withdrawing money via ATM with selected banks especially those under the Interswitch partnership. Among the trio, UTL seems to give a better deal, Airtel’s pricing is neck to neck with MTN. UTL’s M-sente also has the edge of giving users the ability to withdraw large sums of cash up to a tune of UGX 4 million and above if your bank’s ATM allows.
Interact with your Bank Account
Airtel gives a unique offer that lets its subscriber interact with their bank. In an exclusive deal with Stanbic Bank, the big red telco allows users to send money to their bank accounts, make a balance inquiry, request for mini statements and do bank to bank transactions. Since they have monopolized this category they clearly deserve to take the accolade here.
[icons icon=”thumbs-up” color=”#0ba033″ size=”20″]: Airtel Money
Ultimately, what matters most is how reliable the service is, and the ease in which one can get a mobile money agent. It is safe to say that MTN Uganda and Airtel are a safe bet when it comes to Mobile money transactions in Uganda even if Orange Money and UTL’s M-sente remain the most affordable in some categories.