Uganda: MTN Raises Mobile Money Rates

By Christine Kasemiire

Kampala — MTN has increased mobile money charges for both withdrawals and deposits.

The new charges will be effected starting next month, according to details published in a notice.

According to the new rates, charges have been increased by a range of Shs20 for minimum and Shs3,450 for maximum withdrawals.

The new rates will require a subscriber withdrawing between Shs500 and Shs2,500 from an agent to pay Shs350 up from Shs330 while those transacting between or more than Shs2m and Shs7m will pay Shs38,650 from Shs52,500, respectively.

The telecom also announced an increase on charges made against mobile money payments ranging from Shs80 - for the lowest payment of between Shs500 and Shs2,500 - to Shs550 - for payments of between Shs4m and Shs7m.

Mr Val Okecho, the MTN communications manager, said interim discussions were ongoing about the matter, adding he would give an official response yesterday.

However, he was yet to get back to Daily Monitor with a new position by press time.

The revisions for various charges are contained in a public notice that MTN published early this week.

Mr Micheal Niyitegeka, an IT expert and country manager of Uganda International Computer Driving Licence, said the increment comes as a surprise given the recent tax imposed on mobile money.

Government, last year imposed a 0.5 per cent tax on all mobile money withdrawals, a move that has seen the service become more expensive.

The new rates, he said, will impact on the cost of doing business, especially for agents and customers in the mobile money chain.

"The people they are working with, (the agents, aggregators), the whole network, either their operations are going up or the tax component has increased therefore they need to collect more to earn a profit," he said.

According to data from Bank of Uganda, mobile money transactions currently gross at more than half of Uganda's gross domestic product, which represents more than Shs63 trillion.

Recently, the Central Bank indicated that it would heavily rely on mobile money and online payment systems as some of the main avenues through which it would drive Uganda to a cashless economy by 2022.

This indicates the importance of mobile money to Uganda's money markets and economic development.

MTN, whose 20-year licence expired in October last year, has been pursuing a new licence extension for six months now.

Government, according to information from Uganda Communications Commission, indicated recently that MTN would be required to pay at least 2 per cent of its gross revenue for a 10-year licence renewal, which would translate to about $118m or $150m for 15-year licence.

Ms Sumin Namaganda, the Airtel public relations manager said they are yet to make any changes.

"We do time-to-time evaluations, however, at the moment we have no planned adjustments," she said.