Mobile Money Services Are Ripe for Growth in Uganda

> Posted by Jeffrey Riecke, Communications Assistant, CFI

The stage is set for large-scale financial inclusion expansion in Uganda, including amongst those at the base of the pyramid, according to a new report by InterMedia. Compiling the results of over 3,000 household surveys, Mobile Money in Uganda: Use, Barriers and Opportunities examines the uptake, use and market potential of mobile money services throughout the African country.

In order to participate in mobile money banking services, the only hardware an individual needs is an active SIM card – a data storage card used in mobile devices. They don’t even need their own phone, if they can use someone else’s phone when needed. The report finds that the accessibility of such hardware is widespread. Of the surveyed households, roughly two-thirds had at least one person who owned a mobile phone and an active SIM card. What’s more, over half of the country’s unbanked households and households living below the poverty line were deemed able to access a mobile phone and own a SIM card.

Despite these encouraging figures, there do remain barriers to realizing wide mobile money adoption. Only one in five Ugandan residences have at least one member who currently uses mobile money services. And among these users, the services utilized are disappointingly undiversified, with the vast majority only sending and receiving remittances. Most mobile money users did not know that other services are available beyond money transfers. Beyond a lack of awareness amongst users and non-users, the report indicates that the largest barriers to mobile money adoption are an insufficient number of agents and inconsistent service quality. Nonetheless, there has been a steady, and certainly promising, increase in Uganda’s mobile money subscriber base since 2009.

This report is part of a three-country, three-year effort covering Uganda, Tanzania and Pakistan that InterMedia will conduct at the request of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as part of its Financial Inclusion Tracker Surveys Project.

For more on mobile money, join Grameen Foundation’s panel discussion today at 12:30pm EST. The panel, “Banking on a Phone: Making Mobile Money Real for the Poorest People,” will focus on further developing safe, convenient, and affordable mobile money services throughout the developing world. Among the event’s panelists are Peter Goldstein, Director of Foundation Relations at InterMedia, and Evelyn Stark, Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. To learn more, and to join the live webinar, click here.

Image Credit: In2EastAfrica

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