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Mobile money deals hit Shs11 trillion in four years

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A mobile money agent makes a transaction.

A mobile money agent makes a transaction. Banks’ failure to swiftly adopt electronic money payment systems has seen them lose a significant market share to mobile money operators. FILE PHOTO 

By  FARIDAH KULABAKO

Posted  Wednesday, March 13   2013 at  16:54

In Summary

Rapid growth in mobile phone penetration explains the massive uptake of mobile money service.

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Money transferred through the mobile money platform offered by mobile phone companies grew by 211 per cent last year, hitting the highest amount since its inception in Uganda about four years ago.

The Deputy Bank of Uganda governor, Dr Louis Kasekende, told stakeholders at a function at which MTN Uganda released its 2012 financial results that Shs11.7 trillion went through the mobile money platform provided by the major players including MTN, Aitrel, Warid and Uganda Telecom’s systems last year.

The growth in mobile money platform means that more Ugandans have gained confidence in the use of the mobile money platform to send and receive
money, as opposed to commercial banks and other traditional such as Western Union.

The massive uptake of mobile money service— an electronic platform that enables mobile phone subscribers to send and receive money using their phones— can be explained by the rapid growth in mobile phone penetration.

Currently, total mobile subscription numbers stand at 15 million according to figures from the Uganda Communications Commission, as opposed to commercial banks outreach, creating a fertile ground for mobile money
to thrive.

In 2011, it was estimated that 84.7 million mobile money transactions were
made, with a total value of Shs3.75 trillion wired through the platform.
These figures are far higher than individual banks’ reserves and the
number of bank accounts, which is estimated at about 3.6 million.

At the end of December 2011, mobile commerce users in Uganda stood at 2.8
million, up from 1.8 million in 2010 and now stands at 8.9 million as of
December last year.

According to Dr Kasekende, telecommunication companies are playing a crucial role in financial inclusion and taking banking services closer to people.

MTN Uganda chief executive officer Mazen Maroue, said the telecom’s mobile money platform had 3.5 million active mobile money subscribers by December 2012 and about 20 million transactions were made through its platform over
the period.

He added that MTN’s revenue from mobile money increased by 60 per cent.
Although there have been several concerns over mobile-money related fraud, Dr Kasekende said BoU is working with UCC to develop mobile money regulations to streamline operations.

Mobile subscription slows
Meanwhile, MTN Uganda registered slow growth in mobile subscription numbers last year, increasing by only 1 per cent to 7.7 million subscribers, compared to 15.1 per cent growth that was registered by the MTN group.

Mr Maroue attributed the slow growth to the sim card registration exercise which he says slowed subscription growth throughout the industry in the half of the year.

fkulabako@ug.nationmedia.com