Informal sector dominate mobile money payments

Mobile money has become an important factor in achievement of a cashless economy. Photo / File   

What you need to know:

  • While 80 percent of mobile pay transactions are done by users in the informal sector, they only contribute 20 percent of transacted value 

At least 80 percent of mobile money pay transactions are done by people in the informal sector, which telecoms say signals increased adoption of cashless payments. 

However, the 80 percent, telecoms indicate transact the least amount with the highest transaction values coming from just 20 percent of high value mobile money pay users. 

Speaking to Daily Monitor last week,  Mr Richard Yego, the MTN Mobile Money managing director, said the increase in the volume of transactions among people in the informal sector was “encouraging because it implies that adoption of cashless payments is growing faster in the informal sector compared to the formal segment”. 

“The informal sector is steadily embracing cashless payments. However, the larger value transactions are predominant in the formal sector businesses. We see high volume and low value transactions in informal sector and high value and low volume transactions in the formal segment,” he said, noting that it is an 80:20 scenario. 

Mr Yego also indicated that about 80 percent of transactions range between zero and Shs60,000 while 15 percent are between Shs60,000 and Shs250,000. The remainder, which is 5 percent are transactions between Shs250,000 and Shs5m and are predominantly in the formal sector. 

MTN also noted that 80 percent of merchants process 20 percent in transaction value, while 20 percent process 80 percent of transaction value.

Last week, MTN indicated that by October an average of Shs8b was paid daily in exchange of goods and services through its mobile money pay platform, which was double the amount in the 12 months to October 2022. 

“Mobile money pay daily transaction value has doubled in last 12 months from Shs4b to Shs8b,” Mr Yego said.  

The daily payments translate to an annual average of Shs2.8 trillion.  

Mr David Birungi, the Airtel public relations manager, said they had observed growing usage of Airtel Money pay, which shows that Ugandans now appreciate cashless payments. 

“Our observation is that the use of Airtel Money pay is growing and people are now appreciative of the digital financial literacy we share,” he said. 

Mobile money has become key in the attainment of a cashless economy, with Bank of Uganda counting on the increase in technology-based platforms to change the payment system.  

Data from Bank of Uganda indicates that during the period ended December 2022, mobile money pay registered one of the largest values in terms of payment of goods and services, recording 10.8 million payments through MTN mobile money pay alone and a value of Shs1.2 trillion.

This could have been higher with the addition of Airtel money pay. 

The value from MTN alone was relative to debit cards and larger than other platforms, among them credit cards and points of sale. 

During the period, Bank of Uganda indicated that debit cards recorded the largest value in terms of digital payments outside mobile money, ahead of points of sale and credits cards.