Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Uganda: MTN's Mobile Money is already moving EUR 1.7 million each month

[] Early this year, MTN Uganda introduced its Mobile Money Transfer service. The service, set to be the next tool rival telecoms will employ in their fight for supremacy enables users transfer money electronically with their phones and pay for some specific services without having to move from where they may be. Edris Kisambira had a chat with Mr. Richard Mwami, the MTN Uganda Head of Public Access about the service and how it has performed so far. Below are excerpts.

So far, how has MTN's mobile money platform performed since it was launched? /How have Ugandans received the service?

Despite, the challenges with the system post launch, there has been tremendous improvement in the delivery of the service to the customer. Mobile Money requires a culture change in regards to the way money is handled. The activity on the platform indicates that it is a solution to needs people did not realize they had.

Has it performed better than your expectations or it is still something that Ugandans are still warming to?

Even in its early stages, we have realized more than the forecasted traffic on the platform and more than the anticipated number of customers joining MTN Mobile Money. It is safe to say that people have embraced the convenience and speedy delivery of the service.

Do we know how much money Ugandans have moved over the system?

On average 5 bn/= is being moved through the platform monthly.

Any challenges so far that you have encountered as you implement mobile money?

Money is a very sensitive issue in Uganda. It has taken time for the public to completely embrace the new and innovative product but they have steadily grown to appreciate it.

And how do you plan to handle the challenges if indeed there are any?

We have engaged the services of professionals in other markets like Kenya where a similar product has been a renowned success with the public there. Creating awareness through relevant publicity campaigns has also helped a great deal in generating the necessary education about the product and how it works and most importantly its benefits.

What are the impressions of Ugandans on the new product?

They are curious and eager to understand it. However, those who have used it are excited and amazed at what it does.

In your opinion, is the product addressing the need that you saw before investing the amounts you did?

Yes, there was a need to reach the unbanked population and as much as the uptake of this product has been very widespread we anticipate to reach even wider as time goes by.

I have heard that the requirement of an identification card (ID) where Ugandans largely do not have IDs has made would be users shy away from the service, how do you plan to address this to reverse the situation?

It is a KYC requirement that we cannot avoid. The registration form however does allow you to use any form of identification including an LC letter.

One of the cornerstones of the product is to help move the unbanked population of Uganda into the formal financial sector; do you think that since the launch of MTN Mobile Money this is happening?

Yes we believe it is happening, as a lot of our transactions are happening up country.

What are the yet unexploited possibilities that the money transfer service offers Ugandans but are yet to be grasped?

Bills payment, bulk (salary) payments, and bank transactions, cross border transactions.

MTN's Mobile Money Shifting UShs5 Billion Monthly

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