Mobile money subscription shoots up, banks stagnate

Mobile Money Services

It is 10 years since the mobile money service was introduced in Uganda by MTN telecom. Following the innovation, other telecommunication companies joined the development and mobile money has become one of the greatest innovations in the country.

According to a new report, 56% of the adult populations in Uganda are mobile money users, yet only 11% have bank accounts either jointly or individually. The number of mobile money subscribers has increased to 22 million from about 19.6 million people that were reported in 2017.

The new report on Uganda, dubbed Driving inclusive socio-economic progress through mobile-enabled digital transformation, has indicated that the numbers of bank accounts holders in Uganda stands at five million people. The survey was conducted last year by the GSMA Association, in conjunction with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The survey further explained that the broad access to mobile phones and the low-cost structure associated with deploying mobile money services in the country has seen mobile money become the main driver of formal financial inclusion. It also ranked Uganda seventh in countries with largest cellular Internet of Things market in Sub-Sahara Africa after South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Kenya. In the year ending June 2018, the total value of transactions over mobile money platforms reached sh73.1 trillion (about $17.4b), more than half of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

 The survey further indicated that mobile money platforms evolved from providing peer-to-peer remittances and airtime top-ups to enabling access to more complex financial products. These include savings, credit and loans, insurance and person-to-government transactions, among others. Gerald Rasugu, the director in charge of Mobile for Development at GSMA in Sub-Saharan Africa, said,

“You find at least two mobile money shops in hard to-reach areas. It contributed to financial inclusion in the country.”

 He made the remarks yesterday during the Uganda national dialogue for digital transformation high level roundtable, at Sheraton Kampala Hotel. Vincent Waiswa Bagiire, the Permanent Secretary at the ICT ministry, said:

“Mobile technology is evolving fast and is shaping the way everyone conducts business.”

To the government, he said, this presents an opportunity to not only reach everyone, but also involve them in identifying and solving problems. Almaz Gebru, the UNDP Resident Representative, said:

“Things have shifted significantly, with nearly half of Uganda’s population having mobile subscriptions.”

 The team collected data from already existing surveys, including quarterly market reports by the Uganda Communications Commission, finance ministry, World Bank, Uganda National Household Survey and the Uganda Poverty Assessment by the World Bank, among others.