Worries As MTN Mobile Money Outage Gets Underway

Susan Mugenyi runs a mobile money kiosk in Kyaliwajala trading Centre, Namugongo, in Wakiso district. She says on a daily basis, she transacts money of close to 6 million Uganda Shillings.

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She is one of the agents that will be affected by the mobile money outage that starts tonight.

For the next three days, effective midnight on Friday until Monday 22nd September, MTN Mobile Money will be offline. This will affect the businesses that rely on MTN Mobile Money, which holds about 70 percent of the entire market share for usage and agents.

It has in excess of 18,000 agents, according to company documents. MTN Uganda has for the last two weeks been notifying customers that Mobile Money will be down as it upgrades to a new platform.

In the more recent text messages it has been encouraging customers to pay for their utilities before 20th September 2014. Brian Gouldie, the CEO MTN Uganda, said that the outage was scheduled as they attempt to move to a more secure 18.5 billion Uganda Shillings platform.

Apart from sending and receiving money, Mobile Money is now used to pay for utilities like water, pre-paid and postpaid electricity, TV subscription, and purchase of goods and services.

There are currently no available statistics on what most Ugandans use mobile money for. The overall mobile money segment has so far transacted close to 18 trillion Uganda Shillings in 2013, according to Bank of Uganda.

MTN Uganda alone has about 6.7 million Mobile Money customers. In December 2013, Mobile Money revenues at MTN Uganda rose by 36 percent.

The company, however, did not disclose revenue on Mobile Money. Customers will have options like Airtel Money, but for most MTN still dominates. They indicate that the outage will none-the-less disrupt their work.

Power distributor Umeme today placed an advert notifying power consumers to use commercial banks and the PayWay to pay their bills.

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