Allan Rwakatungu is the chief executive officer of Intelworld Uganda. He spoke to the Independent’s Agnes E Nantaba about financial technology and business in Uganda
What are the key elements in your management philosophy as a manager?
I take myself as a mentor or trainer kind of manager. I prefer to hire young people, train and give them challenging tasks as I watch them grow delivering amazing results. Young people have open minds and have fresh ideas to discover.
A good manager can effectively work with hiring trainable rather than trained personnel. It is key to hire people with open minds to learn and train. The only challenge arises after training them, bigger companies take them on.
What is your assessment of the performance of Uganda’s Fintech industry?
Financial technology is a very exciting and budding industry just like the internet status in Uganda a decade ago when we could hardly figure out the best we can make out of it. Now, all businesses including Small and Medium Enterprises will have to go digital and be paid through the same means. However, it doesn’t go without challenges.
Why did you choose incorporating ICT into finance as your line of business?
Intelworld is a financial technology company that helps businesses sell their products online via mobile devices and collect payments through MTN and Airtel mobile money. In the old economy of doing business, you are required to open a shop, wait for customers and collect cash while in the new economy, you have an app and people pay through digital methods. Intelworld therefore brings businesses into the new economy where they can sell their products via website and mobile apps and get paid via digital means like mobile money Being from a background of mobile money as the foster child of financial technology and its relevance to the Ugandan economy made Intelworld choose such a path that can contribute to the growth of the economy. For any businesses to survive in the near future, there is need for it to get online and the challenge that comes with it is how to get paid and manage the finances. As such, Intelworld is one stop solution that gives you all the tools to sell your product or service to millions of customers via USSD, mobile app, website and agent location and get paid via mobile money, mobile banking and bank cards straight into your bank account. We have a mobile app dubbed Sente and a website that allows people to buy everyday items like airtime, data bundles, utilities, movie tickets, school fees and much more using a credit or debit card from master card. We also have apps for developers targeting the technical part of business which requires them to integrate with us to enable their own business process payments. We partner with Telecoms whom we integrate with and banks to process cards.
What challenges underscore the performance of the sector in Uganda?
Financial technology is a growing sector which is both an opportunity and challenge. This means educating and creating awareness in the market about what the business or enterprise is about yet technology is a somewhat complicated discipline. But also, some individuals and enterprises or companies are not about to adopt this new form of technology which means pushing harder.
We are however optimistic because it is only an element of time for such companies to cross over How do you work to resolve some of the challenges as intelworld?
Intelworld is part of the greater community with many players working towards the adoption of digital finance and cashless transactions. All these players educate and create awareness in the market. For instance, if people have appreciated saving their money on mobile phones that is evidenced with the growing figures of mobile money users in Uganda, the next time they are told to purchase goods through such means will be easier than starting on a fresh page. Government may not be doing its job to a greater extent at the moment but we hope that it also helps the budding sector as there are multiple opportunities that are tied to it.
How relevant is the growing mobile phone penetration in Uganda to the Intelworld business model?
Majority of the mobile phone users are young people who are very receptive and therefore make our strategy easier to market through. In addition, majority of the mobile money users very comfortable with using the internet and social media.
Reports indicate multiple cases of fraud and laundering in mobile money transactions, how does your strategy work to eliminate such loopholes?
Fraud and money laundering are the existent issues in the industry but that is where a company needs the best people to manage such evils. In the digital world, we cannot think of locking safes. As people who have experience in the industry, we work by using technology such as encryption and strong passwords through access control. There is also internal processes like separation of duties to curb such evils. For the bigger picture, Bank of Uganda is expected to come in and regulate the industry that is expected to attract many players.
What is your projection of Uganda’s Fintech industry in the few years to come?
We hope to have covered at least 10 countries as the business scales up. We are excellent about the card transactions as we can process payments from any country of the world with the visa or debit card. We hope to survive and tell the story at the end. In Uganda, we encourage every player in the ecosystem ranging from the private sector to the government to come together and support unveiling opportunities in financial technology that will push the country become a leader in digital finance.