MTN opens Mobile Money API as it unveils fund for Ugandan start-ups

Wim Vanhelleputte CEO MTN Uganda speaking at the launch that took place at The Innovation Village inWim Vanhelleputte, CEO of MTN Uganda. (Image source: MTN)MTN Uganda has announced that it is the first telecom company in the country to grant third parties access to its Mobile Money Access programming interface (API)

An Open API platform provides developers and programmers with free access to MTN mobile money proprietary software platform.

Elsa Muzzolini, general manager of Mobile Financial Services MTN Uganda, said, “This is an exciting development for the Ugandan start-up's 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.”

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 a 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,” Muzzolini added.

MTN has also announced the launch of Ugx1bn (US$270,000) start-up fund that will be accessed by local technology start-ups in Uganda. The fund is expected to provide a financial boost to start-ups that participate in the MTN innovation challenge series.

The first of these is the MTN open API Challenge will start on 3 December 2018. Participants will make their entries on the innovation challenge website.

Wim Vanhelleputte, CEO of MTN Uganda, commented, “It has been 20 years since we started operating in Uganda and our role in this economy has been evolving. 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.”

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