We have to fight  anti-competitive  mobile money practices - BoU 

Dr Michael Atingi-Ego. Photo / File 

What you need to know:

According to Dr Michael Atingi-Ego, there is need for a level playing ground that is vital for market integrity by fostering fair competition among big telcoms and new entrants. 

Bank of Uganda has said it will need stakeholders such as Uganda Communications Commission to cleanse the mobile money sector of emerging anti-competitive practices. 

Speaking during the signing of a revised memorandum of understanding between Central Bank and UCC, which provides a framework for digital transformation by facilitating information exchange and cooperation on licensing, Dr Michael Atingi-Ego, the Bank of Uganda deputy governor, said   there is need for a level playing ground that is vital for market integrity. 

Therefore, he said, the Central Bank will seek to foster fair competition among big telecoms and new entrants. 

“We pray for the UCC’s support in cleansing the sector of the emerging anti-competitive practices,” he said without giving details.

It is not clear which emerging anti-competitive practices, Dr Atingi-Ego was referring to. However, the telecom sector has largely remained a two horse race between MTN and Airtel.

Many of the new entrants have either collapsed or acquired. For instance, Airtel has previously acquired Warid and now has a collaborative relationship with Buganda kingdom founded K2. 

Other telecoms, among them Vodafone and Africell, which acquired Orange, have either voluntary exited or have been liquidated. 

Telecoms, apart from telecommunications services, are now big players in the financial services sector through mobile money. 

The memerundum of understanding, which was by Dr Atingi-Ego on behalf of Bank of Uganda and Ms Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo, the UCC acting executive director, seeks to create an oversight and supervision of payment services and systems as well as the related financial service innovations.  

Regulation of mobile money was recently transferred from UCC to Bank of Uganda as provided for under the National Payment Systems Act.    

Dr Atingi-Ego said Bank of Uganda and UCC have since 2018 collaborated to deliver financial services via mobile phones for over a decade. 

Constructive allay

Dr Atingi-Ego, says UCC has been a constructive allay as Bank of Uganda assumed regulatory oversight over mobile financial services, which required telecoms to establish subsidiaries to operate financial services as a separate business.