In the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, telecom operator, Airtel Africa has partnered with global digital money transfer service provider, World Remit and African-based FinTech service provider Mukuru to extend digital money transfer services across Africa and to more countries across world with time.
According to Airtel, use of cashless transfers will contribute to government efforts to combat and limit direct contact with contaminated surfaces including cash, as it steps up efforts to fight the novel pandemic.
In a press statement, Airtel Africa CEO; Mr. Raghunath Mandava said “the service will further increase Africa’s financial inclusion efforts.” It is currently estimated at 34% according to the Global Findex report.
Airtel users will be able to make local and international money transfers, make utility payments, & merchants, save money on their mobile wallets, purchase airtime and access a range of mobile financial products.
World Remit Managing Director for Africa and the Middle East; Mr. Andrew Stewart said “the service would also be extended to more than 150 countries across the world.”
He adds that the digital financial service is constantly improving the rate of financial inclusion on the continent and is expected to drive it even further during the COVID-19 era.
In a similar development, Airtel Africa also launched a partnership with Mukuru, an Africa-based FinTech that enables safe, affordable, reliable financial services to underserved communities.
This partnership will be particularly beneficial for customers making intra-Africa payments from Southern Africa where Mukuru has a leading presence.
Digital financial services in Africa have previously been credited for the unprecedented increase in the number of people enjoying access to formal financial services. According to Findex, digital financial services in Africa have been widely adopted due to the high mobile phone penetration and a growing innovation(s) by service providers that encourages low-income earners to subscribe for their services.
Mobile money services were introduced in 2009 in Uganda by MTN Uganda and it has become so popular among Ugandans due to the high penetration rates of mobile phone services. According to UCC, the volume of money transacted through mobile money has also grown substantially over the years, hitting 19 trillion last year, while subscriber numbers also grew to 15.6 million users.
Despite the Excise Duty Act 2018 which imposes 0.5% levy on withdrawal transactions, the numbers keep increasing.
Mobile money with no doubt has changed the financial landscape in Uganda and is approving a reality of a cashless society.