Wim Vanhelleputte CEO MTN Uganda (L) handsover a UGX310 million cheque to The Innovation Village as part of partnership that will see the telecom provide high speed internet and server for technology hub.
Wim Vanhelleputte CEO MTN Uganda (L) handsover a UGX310 million cheque to The Innovation Village as part of partnership that will see the telecom provide high speed internet and server for technology hub.

MTN Uganda become the first telecom company in Uganda to grant access to third-party access to its Mobile Money Access Programming Interface (API). An Open API platform enables developers and programmers to get free access to MTN mobile money proprietary software platform. Developers can now access it to create products that ease payment options and leverage the 10 million of MTN customers registered on Mobile Money.

“This is an exciting development for the Ugandan startups ecosystem. Innovators will now be able to develop applications that ease the customer experience in terms of mobile money payments,” said Elsa Muzzolini, the General Manager, Mobile Financial Services MTN Uganda, during the official launch at the Innovation Village.

She further added that the telco, hope that the move will spur innovation in the developer community around the country because this is the first time this is being done here.

Elsa Muzzolini, the General Manager, Mobile Financial Services MTN Uganda.
Elsa Muzzolini, the General Manager, Mobile Financial Services MTN Uganda.

In January 2018, MTN Uganda and Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) entered a partnership intended to drive customer growth and activity by facilitating a wider range of mobile wallet applications for all customers through open APIs. According to CGAP, open APIs have the potential to further drive financial inclusion, which is already being accelerated by the usage of mobile money.

“Our expectations are that this decision will enable innovators to monetize their products, ensure that there is fast turnaround of innovations to get to market and improve the value created for innovators and entrepreneurs, why not a Ugandan Ebay or Amazon in the next few months,” Muzzolini added.

The MTN Mobile Money API will be accessed by developers online through http://momodeveloper.mtn.com/. This takes away the process previously where developers had to submit paperwork physically to MTN Uganda and to proceed to a lengthy standard integration. The online system provides an option where before developer’s product goes live, they can test it using a sandbox available at no cost on the website.

The first of these is the MTN Open API Challenge starts on 3rd December 2018. Participants will make their entries on the innovation challenge website.

“It has been 20 years since we started operating in Uganda and our role in this economy has been evolving. Today, opening the Mobile Money API further emphasizes our ambition of being a digital company. Ugandan developers now have the opportunity to build products that will enhance financial inclusion, improved customer experience when making payments and improve the movement of virtual money,” said Wim Vanhelleputte, the MTN Uganda CEO.

Wim Vanhelleputte, the MTN Uganda CEO.
Wim Vanhelleputte, the MTN Uganda CEO.

During the event, the telco also announced the launch of a UGX1 billion Startup Fund that will be accessed by local technology start-ups in Uganda. The fund is expected to provide a financial boost to startups that participate in the MTN innovation challenge series.

Wim said that the UGX1 billion commitment made towards the MTN Startup Fund also forms part of that ambition to continue supporting local innovators.

“I encourage as many startups as possible to participate in the several innovation challenges we shall be hosting in order to access funding from the MTN Startup Fund,” he said during the event held at the Innovation Village.

At the same function, the MTN Uganda CEO unveiled a UGX310 million high speed internet connectivity package to the Innovation Village, courtesy of the MTN Foundation. The package includes free internet connectivity for use by young developers and innovators as part of its youth empowerment drive.

Wim Vanhelleputte CEO MTN Uganda (L) handsover a UGX310 million cheque to The Innovation Village as part of partnership that will see the telecom provide high speed internet and server for technology hub.
Wim Vanhelleputte CEO MTN Uganda (L) handsover a UGX310 million cheque to The Innovation Village as part of partnership that will see the telecom provide high speed internet and server for technology hub.

There has been a tremendous success in countries like Kenya where some telecom companies have opened up their Mobile Money APIs. MTN Uganda in partnership with several technology and innovation hubs around the country is facilitating the training of developers on how to use the platform. Free training program is available for registration on MTN website.