In Oyam, mobile money agents blame Covid for worsening transactions

A mobile money agent in Oyam serves his customers. Photo by Ojara Daniel.


By Daniel Ojara

In Oyam district, the mobile money dealers are crying over poor turn-up of their customers.

Oyam—27, November 2020: Following extended lockdowns countrywide between March and September this year, imposed by government to curb spread of Covid-19 pandemic, nearly 80 percent of Ugandans, including working class were directed to stay home, or work from home.

Others lost their jobs because their employers could not meet their monthly pay and other daily allowances.

The decision, however, started biting casual business groups, among them boda-bodas, mobile money agents, transportation owners, bars and restaurant’s owners, to mention but a few.

In today’s edition, TND News hears from some mobile money traders in selected Oyam district areas, how Covid-19 has paralysed their businesses.

Robert Ogiki, a mobile money agent in Oyam town council, says he’s recording low customer turn-up since lockdown early this year.

“Most of my customers have gone back to their villages for agricultural activities as another alternative for life,” he said.

He also added that even boda-boda riders who were his daily customers before lockdown (Covid-19) no longer saves or withdraws from him.

Jasper Okite, another mobile money dealer from Minakulu town council, also said his business is also affected.

According to him, his customer, majority of them farmers were transacting often to buy agricultural inputs, but this year he says many households are affected leading to an increase in household poverty.

Okite, however, says many people have now resorted to use mobile money services as an easy way of sending and receiving money, but this he also adds is only growing in some urban centres.

“Here, we are meeting many challenges in our business,” he told publication’s reporter, Daniel Ojara.

Denish Oyite, a mobile money agent from Ngai town board in Oyam North, Oyam district says thieves are always letting them down.

“They always target us and most common now, conning our money,” he reveals.

“During the lockdown, many mobile money services here collapsed due to attack by conmen, and others collapsed due to absent of customers,” he added.

EPRC report

According to the Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC) of June 2017 on Microeconomic effects of mobile money in Uganda, access to quality and affordable financial products remains a key challenge to the growth and competitiveness of Uganda’s economy.

The report further shows that the development of innovative financial products, including products used on mobile platforms, has been at the forefront of improving financial inclusion outcomes across a growing number of African countries.

“Uganda is one country where the access to and use of mobile money has expanded rapidly over the last few years. Despite the known benefits of mobile money with regard to easing commerce, savings and risk management, there have been concerns that it might undermine financial sector stability and alter the landscape for the conduct of monetary policy. This paper set out to examine the macroeconomic impacts of mobile money,” report says.

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