Uganda: Bank of Uganda Encourages Banks and Telcos to Go Cashless

As Coronavirus cases rise to 14, 12 citizens and two Chinese, the Bank of Uganda (BoU) has instituted measures to safeguard Uganda's economy from the prevailing impact of coronavirus on the economy. Among the measures are to engage Mobile Network Operations (MNOs) and commercial banks to further reduce fees on mobile money transactions and other digital payment charges, in order to limit the use of cash and bank branch visit, increase daily transaction and wallet size limits for mobile money transactions, to make the cost of money for the business community and commercial banks low. In a statement issued on Friday, the Governor Bank of Uganda, Mr Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile, said the impact of coronavirus outbreak on the economy is already visible.

To further minimize the likelihood of transmission through handling of physical cash, MTN, one of the leading telecommunication companies in the country has initiated a move that could result into less handling of physical cash in favor of cashless transaction. According to a letter dated March 18, 2020, written by Mr Wim Vanhelleputte, the MTN Chief Executive Officer and addressed to the Director, National Payment Systems Department Unit of Bank of Uganda, a discussion with the Central Bank and some escrow partner banks took place, resulting into encouragement, promotion and usage of mobile money as opposed to the handling of banks notes as a precautionary measure.

Some of the proposals indicated in the letter include; no charges for peer to peer on-net transactions below Shs30,000; no charges for the wallet to bank or bank to wallet transactions (dependent on the partnership with the commercial banks); and no charges for all MoMo pay transactions for customers and merchants.

In his national address on the spread of coronavirus, President Museveni on Wednesday said with money in markets and banks, the Ministry of Health will publish special operating procedures governing money transactions, including disinfecting the coins, using mobile money, using online purchases, among others. "Once you avoid open coughing and sneezing and you wash your hands regularly, then you will not contaminate the surfaces ─ the tables and the door handles among others. Therefore, your hands do not pollute the surfaces," he pointed out.

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