Standard Chartered's Maxweber Asiimwe has dismissed as untrue reports that banks are feeling the heat from telecom companies offering mobile money services in Uganda.
In an email to The Independent, Asiimwe said mobile money is simply an extension of mobile telephony. He said judging by how well the mobile phone was embraced on the African continent long before the facility of mobile money came into being; mobile money was always destined for the phenomenal take off that the country has witnessed.
Now other than concentrate on the threat posed by mobile money to the banking industry or the reverse for that matter, Asiimwe said, the opportunities for building a completely symbiotic relationship between banks and telecoms are immense and will increase exponentially with further technological advancements.
"We are already witnessing the use of bank infrastructure by telecoms whereby mobile money customers could use bank branches or ATMS to safely access their cash sent through electronic channels," he said.
He added payment of electricity, water and other domestic bills can be done courtesy of the mobile phone by the customer miles away from the bank branch.
He said the telecom service is in this case being used by banks to offer more convenience to their customers. He said Stanchart are looking at the mobile money impact as an opportunity of adding the formerly unbanked sections of the population that have been attracted by mobile money to their client base.
"This will no doubt be made possible through relentless innovation on our part in our association with telecoms," he said.
It is estimated that Uganda has about 3.5 million bank accounts compared to about 17 million mobile phone subscribers as of June 2012.
Mazen Mroue, the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Uganda, whose company pioneered the service in the East Africa's third largest economy, says Shs 600 billion is transferred through its mobile money platform on a monthly basis.
He says over 25 million transactions were carried out on MTN Mobile Money during December 2012. In total, MTN Uganda recorded over 200 million transactions on its platform during 2012.
The other players in the industry include Airtel Uganda, Warid telecom, Uganda telecom and Orange Uganda.