Fintechs in Shs66.6b daily losses as govt shuts internet

Friday January 15 2021
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Close to Shs66.6b, which is transacted through Fintechs on a daily basis, is now locked up due to a shutdown of the Internet. PHOTO | FILE

By DOROTHY NAKAWEESI
By MARTIN LUTHER OKETCH

Financial Technology companies also known as Fintechs have said they expect to lose at least Shs66.6b on a daily basis after government shut down the Internet on Wednesday. 
The loss is expected to affect a wide range of Fintech operations, many of which support financial transactions, spreading to banks, telecoms (mobile money) and insurance companies. 

Finetech provide an enabling system for financial service providers through which they move money. 
Speaking in a telephone interview yesterday, Mr Peter Kawumi, the Financial Technology and Service Providers Association chairman, told Daily Monitor that more than 300 million transactions, which are conducted through  Fintechs on a daily basis, had been halted due to the shutdown.

“On monthly basis, Shs2 trillion is transacted by through Fintechs. What the current shutdown means is that money is not moving. Most of our systems depend on the Internet,” he said, noting at least Shs666b was at stake.    
Government on Wednesday shut down the Internet, which has over the years been widely adopted as a medium of transaction and communication. 
The shutdown has, especially in the Fintechs sector, affected mobile money, online trade, Internet banking and online shopping, among others. 

Mr Wilbrode Owor, the Uganda Bankers Association (UBA) executive director, yesterday said the banking system had specifically experienced a slowdown in the Internet banking and bank to wallet transactions.
However, he said they were yet to make a proper assessment, noting payment systems had been the worst hit.  
“We are yet to assess the impact. However, we have noticed a slowdown in payments system such as Real Time Gross Transfers and Electronic File Transfers, which are mostly used for large money transfers,” he said. 
  
The shutdown, Mr Owor said, will also have a huge impact on Agent Banking, which currently has about 13,000 agents across the country. 
“Agent and Internet banking and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) cannot transact. We hope this does not take long. This could be a security matter, but we have to consider the wellbeing of the citizens since the Internet is used for many things,” he said. 

In the run up to the 2016 elections government shut down a number of social media sites.  However, it is the first time the country is experiencing a total shut down of the Internet, which a number of experts have said will come at a huge cost.  
Mr Ramathan Ggoobi, an economist and lecturer at Makerere University Business School, yesterday said beyond Fintechs, the airline industry, media and transport, among others, had been disrupted, noting: “Much of economy was now on a standstill.”

“In banking, about $100m cannot be moved. When you look at the aviation, managing aircrafts in terms of landing and departing is disrupted. We hope this ends soon,” he said.  
According to sources within telecoms and Internet Service Providers, government had ordered for the shutdown citing circulation of information that could be a source of insecurity. 

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The shutdown had also affected tax payments, which, according to Mr Ian Rumanyika, the Uganda Revenue Authority public and corporate affairs manager, had forced the tax agency to extend the deadline for filling due returns to Monday
“We hope the Internet will be on by then. If not we will extend the date,” he said, noting a number of tax payers use the Internet to do different business transactions including filling tax returns.  

Mr Stephen Kaboyo, the Alpha Capital managing director, said the Internet had become a get way to global business beyond communication to include payment systems, banking and big data systems, among others.   
“Today the world is so integrated in many ways than we can imagine. Therefore, a disruption comes with a huge cost. Beyond this, there are also sovereign reputation issues that come along with it,” he said.

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Shutdown affects air transport system                                
The ongoing shut down has not spared the airlines industry, according to players.  Mr John Gemin, the Emirates country manager, yesterday told Daily Monitor, the shutdown had particularly affected the airlines’ booking system, noting that much of the booking is done online.
“For now since the Internet is off, we are using the manual system to manage,” he said without going into details.Travellers use the Internet for a number of purposes, among which include booking, confirmation and check-in.                                                                       Mr Vianney Luggya, the Civil Aviation Authority senior public relations manager, yesterday told Daily Monitor that all flights in and out of  Entebbe International Airport were operational, noting airlines had shifted from the online check-in system to manual. 
“The check-in process is now done manually, which has affected the processing speed,” he said without giving more details.   
 

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