MTN Uganda has become the first telecom company in Uganda and in the MTN Group to grant access to third-parties to its Mobile Money Access Programming Interface (API).
An Open API platform enables developers and programmers to get free access to MTN mobile money proprietary software platform. MTN Mobile Money is the most widely used mobile money platform in Uganda. Developers can now access it, create products that ease payment options and leverage the 10M of MTN clients registered on Mobile Money.
“This is an exciting development for the Ugandan start-ups ecosystem. Innovators will now be able to develop applications that ease the customer experience in terms of mobile money payments. We do hope that this move will spur innovation in the developer community around the country because this is the first time this is being done here,” said Ms. Elsa Muzzolini, the General Manager, Mobile Financial Services MTN Uganda.
In January 2018, MTN Uganda and Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) entered a partnership intended to drive customer growth and activity by facilitating a wider range of mobile wallet applications for all customers through open APIs. According to CGAP, open APIs have the potential to further drive financial inclusion, which is already being accelerated by the usage of mobile money.
“Our expectations are that this decision will enable innovators to monetise their products, ensure that there is fast turnaround of innovations to get to market and improve the value created for innovators and entrepreneurs, why not a Ugandan Ebay or Amazon in the next few months” Ms. Muzzolini added.
The MTN Mobile Money API will be accessed by developers online through. This takes away the process previously where developers had to submit paperwork physically to MTN Uganda and to proceed to a lengthy standard integration. The online system provides an option where before developer’s product goes live, they can test it using a sandbox available at no cost on the website.
MTN also announced the launch of Ugx1bn (US$270,000) Startup Fund that will be accessed by local technology start-ups in Uganda. The fund is expected to provide a financial boost to startups that participate in the MTN innovation challenge series.
The first of these is the MTN Open API Challenge starts on 3 December 2018. Participants will make their entries on the innovation challenge website.
“It has been 20 years since we started operating in Uganda and our role in this economy has been evolving. Today, opening the Mobile Money API further emphasises our ambition of being a digital company. Ugandan developers now have the opportunity to build products that will enhance financial inclusion, improved customer experience when making payments and improve the movement of virtual money,” said Wim Vanhelleputte, the MTN Uganda CEO.
Adding, “The Shs1bn commitment we have made towards the MTN Startup Fund also forms part of that ambition to continue supporting local innovators. I encourage as many startups as possible to participate in the several innovation challenges we shall be hosting in order to access funding from the MTN Startup Fund.”
MTN Uganda unveiled Ugx310m (US$81,000) high speed internet connectivity package to the Innovation Village, courtesy of the MTN Foundation. The package includes free internet connectivity for use by young developers and innovators as part of its youth empowerment drive.