Mobile money payments driving commerce in Uganda

mobile money

Mobile money business is big business. The new mobile phone based money transfer system is enabling financial access faster than commercial banks have done in the past 100 years.

Bank of Uganda was recently quoted saying the number of users of the mobile money transfer system grew from 2.9 million in 2011 to 8.9 million at the close of 2012. This is nearly twice the 4.9 million bank
accounts as of December 2012.

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The size of mobile money transactions has grown phenomenally from 87.5 million in 2011 to 242 million at the end of 2012. The value of the transactions grew from sh3.8 trillion ($ 1.5 million) to sh11.7 trillion ($ 44.9 million). This is more than the total amount of money (11.2 trillion/ $ 43million ) in the 2012/13 national budget.

In Uganda, MTN was the maiden telecom company to launch a mobile money platform with the MTN Mobile Money in 2009. Other telecoms soon followed suite with similar service and to date, about nine million Ugandans use mobile money for financial transactions. MTN registered 890,000 users in the first year of mobile money.

Initially, the platforms were for sending and receiving money. However, the telecoms have also added more features on the services such as the payment of utility bills for electricity and water, and
subscription for services such as Pay TV.

Convenience enabler

Mobile money payment solutions have been lauded for providing convenience, saving time and money as customers have the option of not incurring transport costs to pay points.

 “The reason for partnering with telecom companies is that we want to make it easier for our customers to pay their bills. With customers accessing more payment platforms. Our efficiency is also improving,”

— Umeme managing director Charles Chapman

The partnership enables Umeme clients to pay their bills at Orient Bank branches and receive instant reconciliation of their accounts via SMS to their phones. Zerubabel Kwebiiha, the chief executive officer of Ezeey Money, says the addition of payment solutions on mobile money services is becoming
critical for growth of mobile money trade.