E-commerce platforms urged to ensure real time settlements.

Our Reporter.

Electronic commerce platforms have been urged to settle financial obligations they have with partner businesses on the same day to enable them have sufficient cash flows to keep them afloat.

Speaking during the fintech Landscape exhibition at Sheraton Kampala Hotel, Damali Ssali, a trade development expert said that small businesses rely on daily sales to keep their business afloat and thus should be paid the same day.

It should be noted that while there are a number of financial technology companies that sell different goods to online buyers, they do not own the items they sell; they instead source them from third parties such as small businesses and deliver them to their clients, who either pay the fintech via mobile money or cash on delivery.

Ssali said that most times the small business owners operate on a small capital base and that when it takes several days to get paid, it constrains their ability to keep in business.

“Make timely payments to that woman in a market who has supplied the tomatoes which you have delivered to your client because that person is the most vulnerable in the entire value chain. They should not be exploited by the big players because they have to restock, feed their families and also have to serve other customers,” Ssali said.

Ssali also noted that international best practices dictate that a good e-commerce environment should be able to settle the liability of the person at the end of transaction on that same day.

The Jumia Food country manager, Timothy Mugume said the company understands well the value of same day settlement and does it religiously to enable its partners continue running businesses and continue supplying them and other customers.

Mugume noted that there are immense opportunities in e-commerce. He noted that online payments have grown tremendously during the ovid-19 pandemic crisis as people shifted to online purchases due to social distancing and lockdown measures.

The Head of payments at Safe Boda, Nicholas Kamanzi, also said that the ride-hailing firm does same day settlements because these small businesses need money to restock and continue operating.

He noted that previously, they could pay after a few days but they realised that the businesses needed money the same day and thus adjusted.

The Lusuku (garden online) founder and CEO Medhi Matovu alluded to the huge opportunity presented by Covid-19, saying that players need to focus on changing people’s attitudes towards e-commerce platforms to enable it play a meaningful transformative role in society.

The Information and Communication Technology minister, Hon Judith Nabakooba alluded to how the pandemic has fastened the adoption of e-commerce, saying that a multitude of transactions are increasingly being conducted electronically due to social distancing and lockdown measures.

She urged providers of digital financial services to seize the available opportunities to produce more products and services so as to eliminate any existing gaps.

Nabakooba said that the current situation presents numerous opportunities for prepared fintechs and other related technology service providers.

She noted that as people get used to the new normal, the uptake of e-services is bound to increase.

Exhibition

The fintech landscape exhibition sought to mark the end of the 40-days-40-fintechs project, which was organised by HiPipo, in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

The engaged fintechs were equipped with interoperability skills, using Mojaloop, a switching platform with a centralised service that brings together digital financial service providers to help boost financial inclusion in Africa.

The HiPipo CEO, Innocent Kawooya said the successful execution of the 40-days-40-fintechs project, is expected to change the way financial inclusion is done in the world, transform millions of lives in years to come and change the way financial inclusion will be done in Uganda going forward.

He pledged that HiPipo will continue advocating for a level playing field for all fintechs across Africa to thrive.

Conducive policy environment key driver of digital solutions – experts.

Our Reporter.

Financial technology companies (fintechs) have called for a conducive environment to enhance the adoption of digital financial solutions.

The appeal was made by Oscar Ofumbi, the Head of Business at Lend in a Box, a financial technology company during the two-day fintech landscape exhibition at Sheraton Kampala Hotel last week.

According to Ofumbi, the lack of a conducive policy makes adoption of digital financial solutions difficult.

“If you have a good policy, adoption will be a lot easier because when you talk about an ecosystem, you are talking about the people that are involved in the entire value chain. You need a good policy to ensure that each and everyone’s interest are well taken care of,” Ofumbi said.

It should be noted that while Parliament passed the National Payment Systems (NPS) Bill, 2019 about a month and a half ago, that will among others seek to regulate and provide for the safety and efficiency of payment systems and issuance of electronic money, the president is yet to assent to it.

Citing the Data Protection and Privacy Act (2019), the National Broadband policy and the NPS Bill, the Information and Communication Technology Minister Judith Nabakooba said that the government has set up a conducive legal regime that supports the growth of the sector.

However, Ronald Azairwe, the Pegasus Technologies managing director said that while there is more regulation which is expected to level the playing ground, the NPS is a double edged sword, which he said could make it a little harder for fintech startups to start. This, he said, is because of the whole licensing regime they are supposed to undergo.

“Regulation stands in the way of innovation; we have erratic regulations that sometimes come up and stifle innovation,” he said.

The landscape festival was organised by HiPipo, to mark the end of the 40-days-40-fintechs project, which was held in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

The engaged fintechs were equipped with interoperability skills, using Mojaloop, a switching platform with a centralised service that brings together digital financial service providers to help boost financial inclusion in Africa.

The HiPipo CEO, Innocent Kawooya said HiPipo will continue advocating for a leveled playing field for all fintech players but noted that collaboration is needed to achieve this.

He said the project will not only change the way financial inclusion is done in the world but also transform millions of lives in years to come and change the way financial inclusion is going to be done in Uganda going forward.

Kawooya alluded to the need to secure payment platforms, saying that without that, people will lose trust and confidence in the digital payments systems.

“HiPipo recognises that this 40 Days 40 FinTechs season is just the beginning, and so much more needs to be done especially around raising the levels of confidence of customers in the digital payment systems. We shall continue with the same fearlessness: we are proud to continue forging Africa’s digital and financial landscape. And with the potential we have seen, with the talent we have helped nurture, we know that to ‘Include Everyone’ is more than just a dream, it is something we are making real…,” Kawooya said.

Customer centricity is key in promoting digital financial inclusion.

Our Reporter.

Financial technology companies (fintechs) have been urged to ensure customer centricity in the development of digital financial products, as it will be key in enhancing financial inclusion.

Speaking during the two-day fintech landscape exhibition to mark the end of the 40-days-40-fintechs project at Sheraton Kampala Hotel, Wendy Nanfo, the customer delivery supervisor at Jumo Uganda said customer centricity will enable fintech players focus on customer needs and thus provide innovate products that best suit their needs.

“We need to focus on customer needs; investigate the actions and the artifacts of all the touch points on a customer journey. Knowing who you are serving helps you understand the data and be able to provide a product that best suits your customer,” Nanfo said.

Customer centricity is having a product or service that responds to customer needs at all times.

Nanfo commended HiPipo for advocating for Mojaloop software, saying that it will provide an interoperable solution which is expected to be a game changer in the fintech space as it will provide players with an alternative source of data.

“You need data to be able to serve the person at the bottom of the pyramid. So being able to plug into an API that has data from other sources will help us produce products that best suit our customers,” she said.

The Buladde Financial Services financial services manager John Mark Golooba also alluded to the need to offer simple to use digital financial products to enable people who are still financially excluded to adopt.

The FinTech landscape exhibition was organised by HiPipo, to mark the end of the 40-days-40-fintechs project, which was held in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

The engaged fintechs were equipped with interoperability skills, using Mojaloop, a switching platform with a centralised service that brings together digital financial service providers to help boost financial inclusion in Africa.

Across Africa, it is estimated that only about 43% of people in sub-Saharan Africa are financially included while in Uganda about 78% of the population is financially included both formally and informally.

This is mainly because of high transactional costs, especially across different service providers, which experts say is an obstacle to achieving meaningful financial inclusion.

Currently, providers of digital solutions have to build everything on their own, which is expensive as there is no single loop. This means that they have to charge high transaction fees that are hard for poor customers to afford. Additionally, more services end up being a closed loop where customers can only transact with other customers using the same service.

Lowering cost would therefore require shared platforms like Mojaloop, unto which all players can plug at a low cost, which will help lower both on-network and off-network transaction costs.

Simple products

Daisy Kavinya Mwanzia, senior manager banking, MTN Group  said there is need for simplification of financial products, saying it will be key in facilitating adoption of digital financial solutions that include everyone in society.

She said Mojaloop has laid a good foundation, which will provide for the simplification of digital financial solutions and thus enhance financial inclusion across the globe.

The Flutterwave country lead Nielsimms Sangho said his fintech, which specializes in building infrastructure that can be used by others to build products, will use its expertise to help innovators develop relevant products that can be used by everyone, including those who cannot speak English.

The Lend in a Box Head of Business Oscar Ofumbi on the other hand urged fintechs to embrace cyber insurance so as to externalize risks by allowing the insurance company take on any related costs suffered in case of an attack.

Additionally, Ofumbi urged them to use a two-factor authentication, a multi-factor method that requires users to input different pieces of evidence before they are granted access to the account or system. This, according to him, will ensure an enhanced level of security for players in the fintech sector.

He noted that cyber risks are becoming a challenge for the sector, given that it could either be perpetuated by either an employee or a third-party service provider and that using insurance or a two-factor authentication would be very helpful.

The HiPipo CEO, Innocent Kawooya said HiPipo will continue advocating for a leveled playing field for all fintech players but noted that collaboration is needed to achieve this.

He said the project will not only change the way financial inclusion is done in the world but also transform millions of lives in years to come and change the way financial inclusion is going to be done in Uganda going forward.

Kawooya alluded to the need to secure payment platforms, saying that without that, people will lose trust and confidence in the digital payments systems.

“Without secure digital financial services, the world cannot achieve full financial inclusion because if there is a lot of fraud and businesses losing money in an ecosystem, people will not use it; they will keep money in their bags or assets and in the end, we shall not have money to grow the economy,” Kawooya said.

#40Days40FinTechs: Trade-Lance is using technology to leave a lasting mark in people’s lives.

Our Reporter.

While the COVID-19 crisis has taught people the importance of digital technologies in all aspects of life, its importance has been greatly felt in the financial space.

An increasing number of transactions are progressively going online as social distancing and the lockdown proved that it is only technology that can be harnessed to keep things moving, irrespective of the situation at hand.

This has played out well for Financial Technology Companies (FinTechs), which are aggressively innovating to bridge the gap.

Among them is Trade-Lance, a firm that provides integration and aggregation services to telecoms, financial institutions and utility companies, among others.

Established about 15 years ago, the financial technology company, offers a range from Value Added service solutions including project management, business audits, business analysis, systems architecture, systems development, systems integration, data centre design and management, and ICT training.

Trade-Lance is also does mobile money aggregation with MTN, Airtel, Africell and have integrations with various banks and utility companies in Uganda, according to Ewolu Nelson Mandela, the firm’s Sales and Marketing Analyst.

The firm harnesses technology to offer a range of products including micro loan support, touch pay, M-ticketing, online betting solutions, M-rent, Katale, remittances across networks, airtime to all networks, SharaPay and merchant solutions, among others.

Under micro loan support, the firm offers support for Moneylenders, donors and Saccos. The product also offers SMEs the provision to pay out loans to their customers as a well a medium for collecting premiums.

The Touch Pay product on the other hand offers a fast and secure way of paying fees, thus eliminating the need to queue in banks and sending pocket money to children at school, using mobile money. The solution also provides a closed loop student wallet system that enables parents send money to students while at school, which can be spent in areas parents are certain of.

The M-ticketing solution allows one to sell event tickets using mobile money, via a USSD code, thereby eliminating paper tickets and offering a convenient and secure way of managing events.

Trade-Lance’s Online Betting Solution enables its clients to send bets to their favourite betting companies directly from their mobile phone while the M-rent solution is used by property owners to manage their properties, collect rent and pay service providers.

This, according to Ewolu, enables one to monitor their properties’ cash flow and to plan maintenance schedules with service providers as well as paying their dues at your own convenience.

On the other hand, Katale is an online market place that offers online presence for retailers and wholesalers. It also offers international remittances in partnership with PostBank among other products.

Regional links

The firm also operates in South Sudan, where it delivered the Unified Mobile Money platform and provided a broker to the Unified mobile money platform. All third party integrations in the country use its platform. It also has presence in Ethiopia.

Trade-Lace is among the firms participating in the 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative organised by HiPipo, in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

The initiative seeks to enable FinTechs to innovate solutions that facilitate cross-network financial transactions at minimal risks to enhance access to financial services.

Running for 40 days, the project will see the participating 40 FinTechs acquire interoperable development skills to improve access to financial services, using the Mojaloop open source software.

The HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya applauded Trade-Lance for thinking interoperability despite the existing limitations that come with connecting and integrating with the different players.

He noted that interoperability even between telecoms in Uganda is still very expensive.

“For every single transaction, you are charged a minimum of 13%, which is very high for finance,” Kawooya said.

He added: “So the 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative is part of our 15- year journey of advocating for digital transformation.”

In organizing the 40-days-40-FinTechs project, Kawooya said that HiPipo wants to use the knowledge and skills acquired from its association with some of the founders of new edge technology – Microsoft, Google, Linux and Facebook – to create a leveled ground that allows everyone  to play in the same playing field.

He said that working collaboratively will promote innovation and in turn boost financial inclusion.

Kawooya noted that COVID-19 has also shown people that this is the time for everyone to think digital.

He further noted that anyone who innovate around mobile in Africa is destined to succeed, given that Africa is an economy, which people refer to as a mobile first continent.

“It has been proved that all those who innovate around the mobile easily get to capture the market and easily get to grow and to sustainably serve and transform lives,” Kawooya said.

Kawooya said that HiPipo seeks to ensure that the world, starting from Africa, achieves full digital transformation, given the enormous opportunities that come with digital exposure.

#40days40Fintechs: Yapheh is offering salon services at a click of a button.

Our Reporter.

If there is anything that the corona virus crisis has taught business people in Uganda and world over, it is the power of technology in providing goods and services.

With the lockdowns that cut across nations as countries implemented measures to curb the spread of the dreaded virus, the only businesses that managed to generate revenue are only those that adopted technology-supported channels to deliver goods and services.

Among them is Yapheh, a startup that offers salon and spa related services to customers including hair, nails, skins, massage or any other beauty service.

Launched recently, the person who needs the services only has to click a button and choose the service they want where they want to have it from – whether at their home, workplace or a salon.

Vicent Nemeyimana, the founder said that he was motivated to start such a platform after realizing that people were tired of the long queues in salons, waiting to be worked on while others were walking long distances to get to their favorite salon, which was inconveniencing

Additionally, some people, especially women, lacked salon time because of their busy schedules while others spa business owners were faced with shortage of clients. Salons also have poor data collection regarding clients, poor digital presence, overcrowded space and working on pressure.

Putting the services online provides salon owners with data that can be used for customer retention purposes and also enables salon owners to effectively plan, depending on the number of clients they have to attend to.

“With our solution, people no longer have to wait for long hours on benches, walk long distances to their favorite salon or suffering difficulties of finding salon time in case they are busy. You can now order all you need whether hair, nails, skin or massage services at a click of a button from wherever you are and the nearest salon will come to you,” Nemeyimana said.

He said there are thousands of salons and spa businesses, with the biggest percentage being in Kampala and most owners and users have access to smart phones and internet.

Being a multivendor, the startup has since had 20 different salons registered on its website in 20 locations in Kampala and 10 customers have already been served. Booking and payment is done online.

Yapheh is among the firms participating in the ongoing inaugural 40-days-40-FinTechs project organized by HiPipo, in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

The initiative seeks to enable FinTechs to innovate solutions that facilitate cross-network financial transactions at minimal risks to enhance access to financial services.

Running for 40 days, the project has seen the participating 40 FinTechs acquire interoperable development skills to improve access to financial services, using the Mojaloop open source software.

The HiPipo CEO thanked Yapheh for coming up with a digital platform to address people’s beauty needs noting that the salon business has thousands of clients that are potential Yapheh clients.

He pledged that HiPipo will offer technical and advisory support to Yapheh so that they can improve their digital platform and also make their payment collections solution interoperable.

He also urged the startup to invest in systems that offer users excellent user experiences.

“No matter how much you market, if people don’t get good user experience you cannot achieve your objective. For instance, if 20 people wanted to visit your platform but found it down or they had a bad user experience, they will run away to where the experience is better,” Kawooya said.

FileTax is helping businesses file taxes with ease.

Our Reporter.

While some people and businesses in Uganda would be willing to pay taxes, the cumbersome procedures make it difficult for many to comply.

This explains why the Uganda Revenue Authority, the body charged with collecting taxes on behalf of the government, is still failing to increase the country’s taxable base, despite there being a big number of people and businesses that qualify to pay taxes.

However, one technology company, FileTax, has set out to simplify and revolutionize tax payment in Uganda by helping individuals and businesses comply with their tax obligations so that they can support economic development.

Malcolm Kastiro, the FileTax founder said that the firm helps simplify tax payment through technology and offers advisory and training services on how to file their taxes better.

Katsiro said he was motivated to start the company after realizing that there is a big mandate to get as many people as possible to participate in financial services.

He noted that once a poor family is empowered on how to use money, they be inspired to scale and thus start a small business and as it grows, they have to be educated about tax matters so as to enable them comply with the taxman.

“As FileTax, we are trying to show people that as much as you are spending and keeping track of your expenses, you also need to remember that there is an obligation to government to pay taxes

Katsiro said that emphasis is put on women, given that they are the backbone of any society, know how to spend money, are always good at budgets and several are trying to start businesses but lack the necessary skills for them to manage certain aspects of their businesses, including taxes.

He noted that they are coming up with a simple way of empowering women to be able to keep abreast with the kind of taxes they need to pay and when to pay them.

Kastiro also announced that women in business have also been given an offer, where their businesses will pay UShs150,000 for a package that will enable them file taxes better, down from UShs200,000.

They will also benefit from advisory and training services on how to file their taxes better.

Technology key

FileTax is among the firms participating in the 40-days-40-FinTechs project, organised by HiPipo and in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

The initiative seeks to enable companies to innovate solutions that facilitate cross-network financial transactions at minimal risks to enhance access to financial services.

Running for 40 days, the project has seen the participating 40 FinTechs acquire interoperable development skills to improve access to financial services, using the Mojaloop open source software.

The HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya applauded FileTax for the innovation, saying that filing tax has never been simple, even for some big firms.

He noted that it is important that taxation becomes an important point of discussion saying that when money becomes digital, it will become easy to visualize and also make it easy for the government to monitor.

“With digital money, authorities will know the money generated by a business, payments made and the amount of tax an entity is required to pay as tax.

“With this, we will have no burden as innovators and proprietors of different businesses and the government will be able to have better service provision such as good schools, health facilities and road infrastructure among other,” he said.

Kawooya added that technology has played a major role in the growth of the economy as a number of tech firms are tax compliant.

“What a good way to end the first 40-days-40-FinTechs other than with an entity that speaks to regulation in terms of making sure that people pay taxes. If we want service provision, then we must all pay taxes,” Kawooya said.

#40days40Fintechs: Merchandise Uganda is linking sellers to buyers.

Our Reporter.

Merchandise Uganda, an e-commerce platform that connects sellers to buyers is increasingly gaining prominence in Uganda, owing to its ability to connect businesses to market across the globe easily.

Established in March 2019, the platform allows merchants to open mini-showrooms through which they market their products to potential buyers by posting product photos and adverts, reviews, tips and videos.

It has a number of sectors including agriculture, construction, manufacturing, legal logistics, hotels, education and family, general merchandise and health, among others, where people post their products, depending on the category.

Among the benefits are direct link between suppliers, business and buyers, awareness creation about available products, branding, helps local businesses link up with global buyers and also enabling businesses to participate in online auctioning.

Nurudin Busingye, the Merchandise Uganda Operations Manager said the firm was established with a view of creating a level playing field for people in business, irrespective of size

“You find that some businesses are unable to afford rent in particular areas even though they would have wanted to operate from that place. With this platform, services are affordable so anyone can market their products to potential buyers,” Busingye said.

Without divulging in to details, Busingye said that in a space of one and a half years, many businesses have benefited from enhanced brand visibility, which has resulted into increased sales.

 

The HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya commended Merchandise Uganda saying that it is doing a fantastic work of ensuing it digitally includes different people.

 

He, however, urged them to pay more attention to ensuring that they offer a full online experience to their customers that is free of glitches.

 

“As players in this space, we have to be extremely very customer sensitive because in the end, that is what speaks to customer experience. We need good practice of cyber security that speaks to customer needs and thoughts,” he said.

 

He added: “We are happy to celebrate you because you are doing a good job but we will be very glad to help you walk through the journey of ensuring that you do a full integration and complete the customer journey once and for all. This will ensure that a customer can have a full experience and allow you to integrate with interoperable payment systems that will enable you to scale in any market so as to serve more customers.”

 

Merchandise Uganda is among the firms participating in the ongoing inaugural 40-days-40-FinTechs project organized by HiPipo and in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

The initiative seeks to enable FinTechs to innovate solutions that facilitate cross-network financial transactions at minimal risks to enhance access to financial services.

Running for 40 days, the project has seen the participating 40 FinTechs acquire interoperable development skills to improve access to financial services, using the Mojaloop open source software

Kawooya said the 40-days-40-FinTech initiative will be held annually so as to enable them continue shinning a light on prime stories in financial technology that are transforming millions of lives.

#40days40Fintechs: Hamwe East Africa transforming agriculture through digitization.

Our Reporter.

Digital agriculture is increasingly gaining prominence across the world. It is predicted that by 2021, the digital agriculture market, including value of software, algorithm, platforms and links between farming and technology hardware, would triple to $15 billion.

To tap into this growing market so as to transform agriculture through enhanced production and productivity, Hamwe East Africa, a startup that specializes in the digitization of agricultural value chains, was established in 2013.

The company’s co-founder Allan Asiimwe said that while the initial objective was a desire to help farmers have computerized records, it later evolved into a fully digital platform after identifying that the biggest problems facing farmers were being unable to get timely payments and moving long distances to receive payments.

The company then re-invented itself to solve these challenges.  It set up the M-Farmer app, which is designed to extend the benefits of technology to agricultural value chains where different actors – farmers, traders, processors and consumers – can build better records, increase efficiency of operations and make informed decisions.

The M-Farmer platform functionality includes farmer profiling and registration, collections, check-off system, mobile payments, supplier module, e-extension, farm monitoring, order management, farmer app and traceability.

“We were motivated by the need to solve what we thought were fundamental problems facing farmers so as to enable them do farming as a business  and also sustain and have livelihoods from their activity,” Asiimwe said.

He added: “Over 70% of the working population in Uganda is involved in agriculture but the playing field is not leveled for them to make sense out of their vocations. But since we went into digitization, it has taught us that there is so much that needs to be done.

“There is need to work on the infrastructure and collaborations starting with government, financial  institutions and technology companies – especially those that have been there before to solve these problems – and development partners in order for the farmer to get that last mile experience of being part of that ecosystem.

Hamwe East Africa is among the 40 firms participating in the 40-days-40 FinTechs initiative, which is organised by HiPipo, in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

The initiative seeks to enable FinTechs to innovate solutions that facilitate cross-network financial transactions at minimal risks to enhance access to financial services.

Running for 40 days, the project has seen the participating 40 FinTechs acquire interoperable development skills to improve access to financial services, using the Mojaloop open source software.

The HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya commended Hamwe East Africa for thinking about digitizing agriculture, saying that it (agriculture) together with technology are among the two most important sectors in Uganda.

This, he said, is because Covid-19 proved that the country did not have enough maize flour and beans to distribute to the targeted people while technology emerged as one of crucial sector that connected people during the crisis.

“The easiest ways of making sure that we have food is to ensure farmers are empowered with technology to help them receive payments in real time and to have whatever kind of information they need to ensure they have better agricultural practices and also to bridge the gap between farmers and sellers of the end product,” Kawooya said.

He also commended all the firms that have participated in this year’s 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative, saying that the project would not have been successful without their participation.

Although it was limited to slightly over 40 FinTechs, despite being oversubscribed, Kawooya said that they will ensure that they integrate more learning opportunities in future so that even those that are unable to participate as mainstream participants, can take part during different days to share knowledge.

#40days40Fintechs: Yo Uganda is demystifying digital wallets in Uganda.

Our Reporter.

Mobile wallets have over the past few years become a buzzword in most countries across the world, including Uganda.

However, one name stands out in Uganda when it comes to mobile wallets; that is Yo Uganda, a technology solutions company that braved to venture into the world of the unknown.

Established in 2006, the company entered the market offering a low cost international call service before venturing into mobile technology to provide Value-Added-Services.

Solutions such as mobile money, SMS, Unstructured Supplementary Services Data (USSD) gateways, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), voice solutions and custom-developed applications were introduced to the market and were tailored to its clients’ needs, according to company’s managing director Gerald Begumisa.

This followed the launch of MTN mobile money in 2009 and Kenya’s M-Pesa, which had been launched two years before MTN’s mobile money services.

Like any agile company, Yo Uganda later ventured into the mobile payments space. This saw it launch the Yo Payment, a mobile money payments and mobile commerce aggregation system that enables businesses to receive payments from their customers via mobile money as well as make mobile money payments to any mobile money account holder.

It facilitates airtime transfers, integrating with banks, utilities and individuals and businesses that wish to use mobile money networks to accept or make payments.

“When mobile money was first launched, the focus was person–to-person and the recipient would immediately go to a nearby agent to withdraw cash. So we saw an opportunity to enable businesses and other organisations to take advantage of the mobile money service in a way that would enable them reduce their costs and reduce on the risks of keeping cash at their premises,” Begumisa said.

It targeted three sectors including merchants, corporates and financial institutions.

Under the merchant sector, Yo Uganda enables businesses to securely accept mobile money payments for their goods and services through any channel of their choice, depending on their needs while under corporates; it enables organisations transform from cash to digital form of payment, using mobile money.

They can also use the bulk payments service to securely and conveniently disburse funds directly to the mobile money wallets of multiple beneficiaries.

Under the financial institutions sector, Yo Uganda provides a solution that enables institutions like banks, micro finance institutions and Saccos, among others to accept deposits through the mobile money channel and also enable their customers to withdraw funds from their accounts directly into their mobile money wallets.

In partnership with financial institutions, Yo Uganda also tapped into money remittances, where it would enable remitters to deliver remittances directly into beneficiaries’ wallets, in partnership with international remitters.

Bringing farmers onboard

Begumisa said that while mobile money was already popular by 2010, there was still a big gap especially in rural areas where farmers were skeptical about adopting digital finance.

However, in 2015, Yo Uganda partnered with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and telecoms to sensitize and enroll farmers onto mobile payment systems.

The focus was mainly on three value agricultural value chains including coffee, seed oil and dairy, in Eastern, Northern and Western Uganda, respectively.

Over 135,000 farmers have so far been on-boarded on the digital ecosystem so far, bringing them into the financially included people bracket, which currently stands at 78%. This is also in line with the ongoing efforts to boost financial inclusion and this explains why Yo Uganda is among the firms participating in the 40-days-40-FinTechs initiative organised by HiPipo, in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation.

The initiative seeks to enable FinTechs to innovate solutions that facilitate cross-network financial transactions at minimal risks to enhance access to financial services.

Running for 40 days, the project will see the participating 40 FinTechs acquire interoperable development skills to improve access to financial services, using the Mojaloop open source software.

The HiPipo CEO Innocent Kawooya noted that achieving full financial inclusion requires collaborative efforts and this explains why HiPipo organised the -days-40-fintechs initiative to bring together players with different solutions so as to work together to address people’s financial needs.

He added that COVID-19 has proved that the technology sector is the savior of so many economies, given an important role it has played during this crisis across the globe.

Kawooya equated Yo Uganda’s mobile payments journey to that of Facebook and HiPipo, which started as a social media and entertainment platforms, respectively to now venturing into digital financial services.

“When you are able to show people the value of having mobile devices and using connectivity to communicate, then you can easily show them that even their money can be put on their phones and kept safely there,” he said.

#40days40Fintechs: Mwanjala kicks off digital financial inclusion drive in Zambia.

Our Reporter.

Mwanjala Technologies, a Zambian company based in Kitwe Lusaka seeks to connect buyers and sellers with proper delivery lines and digital payment integrations.

It further seeks to enhance e-commerce through connecting people to various products and services and allowing them the option to pay through integrated digital financial services platforms such as mobile money.

Mwanjala Technologies makes it easy for users to make online purchases in a secure environment, through integration with electronic payment systems.

Edward Mwanjala, the company’s CEO explained that while they started off by integrating their social network platform with PayPal and VISA Card, users were uncomfortable using them. This forced them to revisit their option, thus integrating with mobile money payment systems, using Application Programming Interface (API).

Additionally, the Financial Technology Company (FinTech) seeks to empower entrepreneurs to be able to sell their products, services and brands.

“Ours is a platform for people to express themselves, to start up brands on our network and be able to make money. Our vision is to make sure that marketers can post their goods and people can be able to buy with mobile money,” Mwanjala said.

The future

Mwanjala is optimistic about the Opportunities in the financial technology space, saying that the future of buying any goods and services is online.

“People will in future reduce the time they go to shops physically; mobile payment systems are going to be the norm if in fact they are not already,” he said.

He added that drones are also expected to come in handy as new delivery systems. Despite the immense opportunities, Mwanjala expressed concern over the limited number of engineers who are able to code and the financing constraint which limits innovation.

“We have created a working engine similar to that of Facebook using the limited resources we have. If a major venture capitalist invested in our project, we could do immense stuff,” he said.

He added: “We are a young company but we are ambitious. We want to lead Africa in pioneering ways of doing business especially in the e-commerce sector. Using our platform, users can sell anything from music, clothes, gadgets and a lot more.”

Mwanjala noted that the team is constantly developing new solutions to bring about ease of doing business.

He noted that Mwanjala Technologies intends to enhance partnerships by collaborating with more players to enhance customers’ e-commerce experiences by minimizing fraud and ensuring timely delivery of purchased goods.

Mwanjala Technologies is among the firms participating in the 40-days-40-FinTechs project.

Running for 40 days, the project, which is organised by HiPipo, in partnership with Crosslake Tech, ModusBox and Mojaloop Foundation, seeks to enable FinTechs to innovate solutions that facilitate cross-network financial transactions at minimal risks to enhance access to financial services.

Simon Kamya, the 40 days 40 fintechs technical facilitator noted that Mwanjala’s state of business calls for availability of an open loop, and same day settlement services that can allow free transaction indulgent where the customers need not worry of which financial providers the businesses prefer.

“Based on the Mojaloop financial model, Mwanjala using the Open source API and business idea, they can include all Digital Financial Services Providers on the same echo system and make use of the account look up service to identify transaction from the different edges of the telecoms, bank, mobile wallets among others,”Kamya said.