Uganda:Visa goes mobile

With your Visa debit card, you could buy milk in a supermarket, fuel your car, pay for drink at the bar or even pay for a hotel room. 
But on a normal day in Uganda, a consumer will search for an Automated Teller Machine (ATM), withdraw cash to pay electricity bill or even buy bread from a supermarket where that transaction can be made electronically. 
Numbers indicate consumers like these make up the 99 per cent who carry out transactions at the ATM while the Visa card transactions lag behind at less than 1 per cent.

On the other hand, mobile money services happened, making it easier for Ugandans to access cash from the agent next door and also pay bills. 
To match competition from new electronic payment platforms like mobile money, Visa has innovated around this technology to enable consumers carry out transactions using their mobile phones.

“We have Visa on mobile. It should be coming in the market within the next months. In fact one bank has already completed the process from a Visa standpoint,” Mr Victor Ndlovu, the country director Visa Cemea, said yesterday at the launch of Centenary Bank visa debit card. 

Using USSD an app based transactions, visa mobile will allow financial services provider to reach the bottom end of the pyramid where everyday customers who do not want to use plastic cards can use mobile phones. 
“We monitor trends around and appreciate that East Africa has adopted the mobile more than it has adopted cards. So it actually becomes very effective to be able to reach that segment,” Mr Ndlovu said.

Visa cards

Numbers: There about 1.5 million Visa cards in the market. Centenary, according to Mr Fabian Kasi, the bank’s managing director, has about 1.4 million customers, which Visa hopes to add on its network.