Last week on Thursday, telco; MTN Uganda in a new partnership with MasterCard and United Bank for Africa (UBA) announced MTN MomoCard; a ‘Virtual Payment Gateway’ card to enable quicker, convenient, and more secure online payments globally and locally. The virtual card is powered by UBA, allowing MTN customers make payments at the vast network of global and local outlets accepting Mastercard payments; such as eBay, Amazon, Alibaba among others.

Like a debit card that is linked to a bank account, the MTN MoMocard is linked to a customer’s MTN Momo account but is accessible on any type of mobile phone. All a customer has to do is dial *165*70# and follow the instructions.

So, let’s get to understand this ‘Virtual Card’ a little bit more.

First things first, its only to MTN customers, and limited to mobile money registered customers.

Let’s get right into it:

Acquiring the Virtual Card
PC Tech Magazine hasn’t used/tested the card yet, however, to acquire one, you dial the USSD code *165*70# >> select option 1 which is to create an MTN MoMocard – where you will be charged UGX1,000 (which is roughly .26 USD cents). The customer will then be prompted to enter their mobile money pin. On entering the pin, a 16-digit virtual card number together with the CVV number (much like for the debit cards) will be sent to the user’s phone via an SMS.

It is worth knowing that, you can create one virtual card at a time which has a maximum value of UGX3 million (roughly USD$787). The card will last for two weeks (14 days) from day of creation, after that time, it expires. There by then, a customer can create a new card.

Meanwhile, you can cancel your card at anytime. Using the USSD code *165*70# >> selecting option 3 cancels your card. You will be prompted to enter your pin to confirm this request. And in case you want to use the card again, you go ahead and create one.

A step to step to buying a MomoCard, view your MomCard details, and Canceling the card.
A step to step to buying a MomoCard, view your MomCard details, and Canceling the card.

During the transaction
With UBA on board, customers can make online payments to a vast network of global and local outlets that accept Mastercard as a payment option. You can buy products from say Amazon, eBay, or pay for a service, or book your next trip right from your phone – whether a feature or smartphone. Being supported on a feature phone is one of the biggest advantages.

Note, while making these payments, you are charged 3% of the transaction amount. The charges will be made on the customer’s MTN mobile money account. For instance, if you’re buying a product on Amazon that is worth UGX100,000 and say if shipping ain’t free on that particular product, then say amazon charges you UGX20,000 – making it a total of UGX120,000. Now the 3% will be of UGX120,000 which will be UGX3,600. Thus, in total, you will have to pay UGX123,600.

You can’t Withdraw from the Card
This is a NO! go. The virtual card is specifically made only for making online payments. Since it’s connected via your mobile money account, you can just withdraw money from account through an agent (the Normal mobile money withdraw routine) but not using the virtual card.

One thing we need to clarify is that, the MomoCard isn’t renewable but purchasable at a time you would want to use. This answers the question, “Why would I be renewing the card every after 14 days?” This is fear of paying UGX1,000 every after 14 days. You can buy the card anytime you want. All one has to do is utilize the 14 days to buy/pay whatever they want, and if the card expires, buy a new one and make your payments. In a month you buy the card twice which will cost you UGX2,000.

Let’s look at an example where you don’t have money on your debit card and you need to purchase something from say eBay. One, you will need to find the nearest branch of your bank to deposit money on your account. This would be faster via the counter but you will have to be in a queue which requires patience. But if you deposit via an ATM, this might take even longer. But if you have the money on your mobile money account, buy the virtual card, and within minutes, you have your products paid for.

In conclusion, Mobile Money today would be the most convenient way of paying for your goods or services. This promoting a cashless economy, people no longer need to carry cash on them. You can as well as pay using debit/credit card at point-of-sale terminals – something Stanbic Bank is trying to push via its initiative, Blue Weekends.