Uganda: Number of Banked Users Set to Rise

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The number of Ugandans who will have access to formal banking platforms is expected to expand by three times by mid 2011, Roscoe Nsubuga, the managing director MapSwitch Uganda has said.

The forecast is based on the new developments in electronic banking in Uganda's financial industry and the recent roll out of Uganda Telecom Limited's (UTL) mobile money transfer service branded M-Sente.

Commenting on the future of the bank users in Uganda, Nsubuga said; "They are likely to triple because people are now using a cross-network banking platform, which enables you to execute transactions across all telecom networks."

"If we gave ourselves another 12 months, I see a very big leap into what we are doing," he added, in an interview with Daily Monitor last week.

Today, Uganda has about five major mobile money banking services that have been embraced by at least one million Ugandans with and without formal accounts. These include; Zain's Zap, MTN's Mobile Money, and UTL's M-Sente.

Commercial banks like Standard Chartered Bank, Centenary Bank and Crane Bank also offer mobile banking services but to only their clients unlike telecommunication companies.

 Mapswitch in partnership with Post Bank, have at least 100,000 customers on their banking network. MTN Uganda, the most subscribed mobile communications network has more than 800,000 mobile money subscribers, according to Mr Richard Mwami the head of public access and mobile money at MTN.

The subscribers including those on Zap have access to mobile money transfer services and bill payments systems, which they previously couldn't access through commercial banks due to qualification criteria.

Nsubuga is drawing optimism about the increase in usage of electronic banking from the surge in the number of public inquiries about electronic banking services. The interest follows the launch of Uganda Telecom's mobile money service last month, in partnership with Mapswtich.

He said the population of banked Ugandans will increase based on the growth and further penetration of mobile banking services and platforms in different parts of the country.

To boost the uptake of electronic mobile banking services, Mapswtich has partnered with banks like Posta Uganda, supermarkets, petrol stations and Wazalendo Military Sacco, which have operations across the country.

The company also intends to partner with more financial organisations and businesses, to enhance the usage of electronic money services through their banking platform and point of sale machines.

MTN Uganda and phone vendors Simba Telecom have launched cash reward campaigns aimed at drawing more Ugandans to mobile banking.