Mobile payments in Uganda are boosting commerce

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The number of people using their devices to transfer funds has experienced massive growth.

According to the Bank of Uganda, the number of smartphone owners who are using the mobile payments and funds transfer system that it offers increased from 2.9 million people in 2011 to a whopping 8.9 million people last year.

This has generated faster financial access than commercial banks in the country have achieve in a century.

In fact, the number of people who used mobile payments last year is almost twice the number of people who actually have bank accounts in the country – an estimated 4.9 million accounts. Moreover, the size of the transactions that are being made have also experienced considerable growth.

From 2011 to 2012, the size of the mobile payments transactions more than doubled in Uganda.

In 2011, the number of mobile payments transactions came totaled 87.5 million and rose to 242 million by the end of last year. The total value of those transactions increased from having been sh3.8 trillioMobile Payments African to become sh11.7 trillion last year. To give some perspective to the amount of money represented by the transaction value last year, that sum was greater than the total amount of money within Uganda’s 2012/2013 national budget.

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MTN was the first telecom company in Uganda to roll out its mobile payments platform through its Mobile Money program in 2009. It didn’t take long after that for other telecoms to jump on the bandwagon and begin offering comparable services. Today, it is estimated that approximately 9 million people in Uganda are using this type of transaction. MTN, alone, had 890,000 registered users for its service during its first year of operation.

At first, the mobile payments platforms were exclusively for sending and receiving funds. However, they have now been expanded to include additional services such as utility bill payments and bill payments for subscription services such as for Pay TV.

Mobile payments have been combined with the ability to pay bills in order to provide further convenience for Ugandan consumers, particularly for those who wish to reduce their cost of transportation to pay for their services.

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