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Airtel Uganda set to invest in treasury bills, bonds

Telecom firm, Airtel Uganda, could soon start investing customers’ savings in the government’s treasury bills and bonds upon receiving a license from Bank of Uganda in fulfillment of the National Payment Systems (NPS) Act, 2020.

Kampala, Uganda | ISAAC KHISA | Manoj Murali, the Airtel Uganda managing director, said the new development means that the telecom company is now a payment bank which comes with numerous benefits.

“Now that we are a payments bank, we can operate a savings bank where customers can open savings accounts. This licence also allows us invest savings for customers as banks do but specifically in government bonds and treasuries,” he said.

“This is a big step for Uganda since it will see a lot of financial inclusion coming into the sector with this savings bank.”

Murali said the telecom’s next step is to appoint a trustee bank to ensure safety and returns to customers’ savings.

The Bank of Uganda on May.21 issued financial service operator licences to Airtel Money to trade as Airtel Mobile Commerce Uganda and MTN Mobile Money as MTN Mobile Money Uganda. This eventually placed the telecom’s mobile money business under the BoU and retaining the communications services under the Uganda Communications Commission.

This development comes as data from the BoU shows that the value of money transactions increased from Shs73trillion in 2019 to Shs 93.7trillion in 2020. The mobile money deposits and withdrawals equally grew from Shs1.5 trillion to Shs2.5 trillion on average on monthly basis during the same period under review.

Meanwhile, Murali said the telecom firm also plans to partner with various insurance companies to distribute insurance products to the customers. The success of this plan will place Airtel Uganda at par with MTN Uganda which is already doing so in partnership with Metropolitan Life Uganda in distributing aYo Send with Care health insurance products.

“We added 400+ base stations in last 2 years and plan another 300+ in the coming quarters,” he said, adding that the company also plans to grow the number of towers from 2,116 to 2,539 by March 22 countrywide.

Airtel operations in East African shrugged off the effects of coronavirus pandemic to record a 15% surge in revenue to US$1.38bn citing increased demand for voice, internet and mobile money services.

The company’s combined financial results for Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia, shows a 2.9% surge in voice revenue to US$541million, 34.4% surge in internet revenue to US$254million and 18.1% surge in mobile money revenue to US$110million. Other revenue streams recorded 11.5% surge to US$ 96million.

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