By Frank Kamuntu
Uganda’s Telecommunications giant MTN has slashed fees more than a half cut off for sending money on its mobile money network.
The new rates that started on Saturday, September 7, 2019, apply to only those sending from MTN to MTN network.
In a notice published on it’s social media platforms, the Charges for sending to other networks and withdrawing have not changed.
For instance, one sending between 500,001 to 7,000,000 will be charged a uniform fee of 1,500 Shillings. This is down from 2,200 Shillings charged previously while sending 5001 to 500,000 Shillings will be charged between 500 and 1,300 Shillings.
MTN chart shows that withdrawing between 500,001 and 1,000,000 Shillings will cost you 13,750 Shillings. This does not include taxes. To withdraw between 4 million and 7 million Shillings, one is charged 52,500.
As of June 2018, the number of mobile money transactions increased to 1.3 trillion up from 1.1 trillion in June 2017, according to the Bank of Uganda. The corresponding value of mobile money transactions increased to 73.1 trillion Shillings as at June 2018 from 52.8 trillion Shillings in the previous year.
The 2018 FINSCOPE survey indicates that 23% of Ugandans save money on the mobile money platform, compared to 11% who save with commercial banks. The report also indicates that financial inclusion rose to 78%, representing 14.4 million Ugandan adults, mainly due to mobile money services.
Thus, the platform took advantage of the extensive reach of mobile phones to improve financial access and bring more people into the formal banking system. The mobile money platforms ride on mobile networks and this called for regulatory collaboration with the UCC — the industry regulator and Bank of Uganda (BOU), the financial services industry supervisor since mobile money transactions involved sending and receiving money.
Uganda is one of 19 markets that have more mobile money accounts than bank accounts, according to the Global System for Mobile Communications Associations State of the Industry reports, 2016 and 2017.
They indicate that 56% of the adult population in Uganda is mobile money users, but only 11% have bank accounts, either jointly or individually.
The Twaweza East Africa pressure? Ugandans’ opinions and experiences of poverty and financial inclusion” indicated that the MTN mobile money platform dominates the Ugandan market, with 54% of the adult population using the platform. It is followed by Airtel Money at 25% while other networks have low user levels.
The Bank of Uganda (BOU) in 2013 issued mobile money guidelines to provide the regulatory framework for mobile money in the country. Although guidelines do not carry the same legal weight as official regulations, they make the relationships between Mobile Network Operators and partner banks more transparent.
The guidelines stipulate the approval process for the mobile money services, as well as the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved. They also address interoperability, system standards, competition, Anti-money laundering/combating of financing terrorism and supervision.
For instance, the guidelines stipulate that a mobile money provider (Telecom Company) must be a registered limited liability company while a mobile money agent must also be registered as a business with a physical address and have an account with a licensed institution like a bank.
A licensed institution (bank, MDIs) must receive approval from BOU for the provision of mobile money services. If customers are aggrieved and the provider fails to address their concerns, they are free to report to the central bank, which would then issue a directive to the providers. In the guidelines, the mobile money provider must prove that the money is free of those risks by keeping track of every transaction and issuing annual reports to the central bank.
The provider will also allow for occasional BOU independent audits. While BOU has the powers to supervise the mobile money services, the mobile money operator has must supervise its agents to ensure that they conduct the business in accordance with the mobile money guidelines.