PayWay: Meet the African Vending Machine you probably didn’t know about


PayWay® is a registered trademark for African Vending Systems.They are primarily a payment system with the ability to integrate with different service providers and utility companies. They have already integrated with all mobile phone companies in Uganda, meaning that one can purchase air time for any network through their terminals. In addition to that, they do accept bill payments for DSTV, Gotv and Star times.They currently have 20 locations with their kiosks in Kampala and about 100 retailers with their mobile Point of Service terminals.

After discovering their service through their website and exchanging a few emails with Joshua Musasizi, the operations manager of African Vending Systems Ltd, I decided to try out their service with one of their kiosks at Lubowa shopping village and here is what i found out;

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Dead simple user interfaceWhat I liked

The terminal is powered by an extremely easy to use Graphical User Interface (GUI) that even a child can it use it without being shown first. Nothing fancy.Only what the user needs to input numbers and navigate the system. It’s almost like an ATM interface but without the side menu selection keys that ATMs have.The Interface is also touch screen based which encompasses a virtual numeric keypad and navigation keys. All you need is a soft touch. So you won’t hurt your fingers while trying to punch in numbers.Touch screen interfaces are everywhere these days from photocopiers to smart phones and tablets.


The PayWay terminals support loading Air time and bill payments for DSTV, Gotv and Star. I was interested in loading air time on my cell and that’s what I tested. Loading air time is as easy as entering your phone number. Once you’ve entered your number, you’re prompted to enter the money in the money slot and voila, you receive an SMS confirming your air time. In addition, you also receive a receipt from the machine so that you can keep track of your transactions. You don’t need to scratch an AT card voucher and then hassle entering a long 14 digit code. That’s a time saver and eliminates human errors associated with manually entering a 14 digit code – that’s  if you scratched well in the first place!

Customer care

In the service industry, customer care is as or even more important than the service or the product you are offering. Customer care experience is what makes me oscillate and finally settle on my Network operator of choice. When I called PayWay’s customer service center on 0 800 20 30 20 through their toll free line, my call was promptly picked the very first time and i was quickly attended to.

What i didn’t like

Limited services offered so far

While I liked the few services that are currently supported by the terminals, I didn’t like the limited number of transactions I could transact. So far the terminals support a few service providers like GOtv Uganda, Star times and Datanet’s DPhone plus loading air time, at least at the time of writing this post. For instance there are a number of shops next door where I could buy air time even though PayWay offers a richer experience. However, Joshua Musasizi told me more service providers will soon be supported and this is also shown on the user interface of the kiosk that i used.

What i would also like

Proximity digital distribution hub

The Payway kiosks currently are convenient  automated payment portals for  services such as airtime, pay TV and other utility services soon to come. That’s being done with liquid cash, so credit cards and technologies such as NFC(Near Field Communication) whose viability I blogged about here are out, which is brilliant.
With digital content stored in the local memory of these machines or streamed from a central server, Payway can actually distribute digital content like music to its clients phones through Bluetooth peer-to-peer connectivity upon payment. Most phones are Bluetooth enabled these days which technically increases the chances of Payway being a proximity digital content distribution service provider.  Next time i visit the kiosk with my Bluetooth enabled android phone and a 10,000 Shilling note,  i will be happy to come back with atleast five high quality Songs off Isaiah Katumwa’s latest Jazz album.

The bottom line:
PayWay’s  terminals are a promising means of transacting electronic payments in Uganda. Soon they could be a one-stop hub for paying all your bills conveniently.

Have you used the service and what was your experience? Please do drop a comment.

  • Jacob

    I like the convience it provides, being able to access service 24/7.
    However, sometimes it’s annoying when the Payway machine starts “spitting” the currency for reasons i don’t know!

  • I do agree with all of the ideas you’ve introduced for your post. They’re very convincing and will certainly work. Still, the posts are too short for novices. Could you please prolong them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.

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  • Manu

    Do you think this is a usual way to top-up airtime in your phone?

    • It’s not the usual, it’s an alternative. The “usual” way is watching to an airtime reseller’s shop or kiosk, then purchasing a scratching card which you then enter using USSD shortcodes on your cell. The provider credits your account with airtime.

      However, if you’re close to one of these vending machines, its a self service system. All you need to do is slot money into the machine, enter you number and the supported providers credit your account.