18 February 2013

Uganda: The Growing Mobile Money Business

Kampala — The spirit of entrepreneurship sweeping across has spawned an upsurge of small mobile money shops, some starting their entrepreneurs from their premises or residences.

More people in Uganda have mobile phones than bank accounts. This reality is spurring mobile service companies to explore how they can capture a share of potential banking market.

The mobile money business is a potentially lucrative one since many people have resorted to this method of banking as compared to the old system of using Banks which for long has been the only monopoly in banking.

The mobile money technology has taken hold in the country and its neighbors especially in Ugandan's Urban and even in the rural areas which had always been a no go zone for business oriented people. And it has since expanded into international transfer service for migrants from other countries like UK, Kenya, Tanzania among others sending money home.

By 2010, four mobile operators had signed up more than 15.4 million subscribers more than half of Uganda's adult population to their mobile money transfer services.

The growth of mobile money services in the Ugandan market, where MTN mobile money is still the predominant player has been rapid.

Pieter Verkade an executive at the MTN telecommunications company in Kenya says that mobile money transfers are a well beaten track, with a lot of migrant remittance money coming into Africa for some time through other channels.

The mobile money system has now also been adopted by some banks in Uganda like centenary bank with its cente mobile.

According to Ms. Edith Kababure the Chief Manager E-Banking Centenary Bank Uganda, cente mobile is a 24/7 full banking service that allows centenary bank customers to perform financial transactions and access building.

She says that cente mobile is meant to help the centenary bank customers to transfer funds from their centenary bank account to another, monitor and check their account balance, request for mini statements, purchase air time and pay utility bills like electricity (UMEME) and water (National water and sewerage corporation) and in the nearby future she says they will also include school fees payments, digital TV net works like DSTV, GOTV, and ZUKU TV and payment of taxes all using a phone.

There have been many arguments made by many people concerning the rapid growth of mobile money every where within and outside the country.

Job Kalinaki a resident of Namuwongo says that many people who have never used ATM cards would prefer to use a system that does not need the use of the ATM card which is straight forward, requiring just a pin code that is texted to the user and kept active for only a few hours to safe guard the security of the transaction.

Jasfat Kamau from Kisumu in Kenya says that mobile money transactions (M-PESA) offers banking services to reach people in rural areas and Vodacom's penetration with its M.PESA to this long forgotten market and its distribution coverage through its outlets in rural areas was an attractive thing that has made it expand and grow so fast.

Collins Ekajo from Soroti in Eastern Uganda says that mobile money system saves one's time of going to the banks since the service can be accessed everywhere, he also states that it is convenient and cost friendly since one can access the services everywhere and the money one would have used to go to the bank will have been saved.

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