It is no secret that more than half of Africa’s adult population lacks a bank account or even a mobile money profile. This means a huge block of the African population is totally excluded, with no financial identity at all.
As a result, Africa is predominantly a cash economy where transactions are peer-to-peer. This has therefore presented a huge opportunity for sector players to come up with innovations that can contribute to the migration from cash to a digital economy. Such innovations include mobile money, and borderless money transfers, among others.
It was with these facts in mind that MyTalu – a financial technology company headquartered in London, UK – entered the Ugandan market in 2021 to try and tap into the virgin remittances market.
“Much as there are several entities engaged in cross-border payment recently, the market is still big. It’s not that everyone can get their money on time at specific rates. As a sender on MyTalu, you can dictate how the money is used,” says Dan Edoma, the MyTalu Country Manager Uganda and Vice President of Growth and Expansion.
“We do offer four products; cross-border transfers, eased payment of bills like water and electricity, multi-currency wallets, and virtual cards to help people who may not necessarily have either Visa or Mastercard-enabled cards but still want to do online transactions,” Edoma says.
On top of that, they also seek to create a purely cashless economy in Uganda and Arica at large.
“If you are to go to downtown Kampala, the best way to make transactions is by cash. However, globally, everything is being digitized. We have cashless economies that are at almost 100 percent. This is the opportunity where we need to get into and ensure that we digitize the cash transactions in Uganda,” he says.
Edoma believes that while Telecom companies such as MTN and Airtel started the merchant payment system, the uptake has been limited to very few institutions and opportunities are abundant for other players to join the market.
“Not every institution has a merchant code or MoMo or Airtel pay code. If you go to your local charcoal seller and do not have cash, you need to do mobile transactions and that’s an opportunity that needs to be utilized,” he says.
He also gives the example of school fees payment, which touches almost every parent.
“Right now, learners are going back to school and not every school has – besides the bank accounts and going to the bursar – any other mode of payment. So, how do you digitize that and ensure that people can make payment from the ease of their living room minus going to the bank to line up or the school bursar?” he wonders.
Edoma says that the money transfers and remittances market in Africa can benefit from strong competition because this would push innovators to improve their products and services.
“No one is an island and we need each other. We need both competitors as well as complementors,” he says.
MyTalu is the 30th participant in Season Four of the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative organised by HiPipo to shine a light on emerging Financial Technology companies with unique stories changing the lives of under-served communities.
“I am keenly looking forward to meeting other players and just learning about what they are doing and what are the possible loose ends or opportunities for partnerships. You realize that not everyone else is doing what you are doing and not everyone is intended to do what you do but you have people who need what you are doing,” he said.
The 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative is organised in partnership with Level One Project, Mojaloop Foundation, INFITX, Cyberplc Academy, Ideation Corner, and Crosslake Technologies with generous support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.