Thursday August 11 2011

Government rallies banks on mobile banking

By Walter Wafula


The Minister of Finance, Ms Maria Kiwanuka, has said local financial institutions have to offer mobile phone-based solutions to make financial services more accessible and affordable.

Speaking at the launch of the Interswitch in Kampala yesterday, Ms Kiwanuka said,“I urge Interswtich and other financial institutions to have products that will lead to financial inclusion and reduce the cost of doing business.

InterSwitch is a Nigerian company that recently acquired a 60 per cent stake in Bankom Uganda, a provider of inter-switching services to local commercial banks and microfinance institutions. Bankom entered the deal as it sought more capital to expand in East Africa.

The minister noted that despite the huge strides made in Uganda’s financial sector, there exists a “huge gap” in terms of the absence of mobile payments that can allow the government and companies to collect revenue efficiently. “With easier payment systems, we will see increased voluntary tax compliance and in return see improved tax collection,” she told guests at the event.

Local mobile telecommunication companies such as MTN, Airtel and Uganda Telecom have made attempts to fill the gap by introducing mobile banking solutions such as Airtel money, M-sente and MTN mobile money.

According to Mr Isaac Nsereko, the firm’s chief marketing officer, MTN moves up to about Shs240 billion ( $90 million) across its mobile network per month.

Ms Charlotte Kaheru, the chief executive officer of Interswitch East Africa, said the firm will start offering a set of new age payment services to customers in Uganda including mobile banking. “We want to give customers access to their accounts without the need for going to banks to transact,” she told Daily Monitor. “We are testing the service and it will be available in a couple of weeks.”

Mr Mitchell Elegbe, the chief executive officer of the Interswitch Group, explained that Interswitch will be in position to offer advanced payment services including; mobile and online payments and credit card services.