By Paul Ndiho, Kampala Uganda
Most people in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to banks, so mobile money services are creating major opportunities for consumers and industry players alike. In Uganda, mobile money by MTN and other mobile money service providers are giving commercial banks a run for their money.
MTN Mobile Money is a virtual wallet on your cellphone, and it enables you to securely send money and receive money using the device.
The money you send or receive exists in your MTN Mobile Money account, and you can use that money at any participating store to make purchases or even ‘withdraw’ cash.
“Mobile Money is arguably one of the easiest and safest ways of sending and receiving money. As you can see in my background here, there are people who are receiving and sending money. Okay, let me go and talk to them.”
Prossy, like many other people in Kampala, is a self-employed MTN Mobile Money vendor. She says that mobile money is fast, secure, affordable and convenient. And it’s right there in the palm of your hand.
“When you have your money on the phone, you can go to a mobile money point because they are available everywhere especially MTN. You can go and withdraw your money and buy what you want. It is faster than a bank because you can take less than a minute to receive your money.”
Mobile money services have gained momentum in Africa, and mobile money vendors are all over the place.
Raymond Sewanyena is successful MTN Mobile Money vendor in downtown Kampala. He says that mobile money is giving traditional banks a run for their money.
“It is a system where people get to send and receive money. Yeah, it kind of works like a bank. Someone gets to send their loved ones money. They can withdraw and deposit.”
A recent report by Ericsson Consumer Lab indicates mobile financial companies in sub-Saharan Africa are providing basic financial services to people currently under served by commercial banks. But mobile money also has its challenges.
“Usually there are money shortages, especially when you have many customers and they’re coming at the same times, you can make losses. Secondly, we also have fraudsters or con-men.
At some major MTN Mobile Money centers, there is a security everywhere. “I protect the lives of people and my boss, and whoever comes in I welcome very well.”
Some financial analysts say the growth of mobile money in Africa will pose a serious challenge to the traditional commercial banks, especially if the banks don’t come up with new ways of competing with mobile money providers.