Yesterday, MTN Uganda entered the history books as the first telecom company in Uganda and in the MTN Group to grant third-party access to its Mobile Money Access Programming Interface (API). This means that developers and programmers will have free access to the MTN mobile money API.
MTN Mobile Money is the most widely used mobile money platform in Uganda with over 10 million registered users. With an open MTN mobile money API, developers can now create products that ease payment options and leverage the legion of MTN clients.
“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 Elsa Muzzolini, the General Manager, Mobile Financial Services MTN Uganda.
Earlier this year, the giant telecom entered a partnership with Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP). This partnership aimed at driving customer growth and activity by facilitating a wider range of mobile wallet applications through open APIs.
Mobile money has accelerated financial inclusion and according to CGAP, open APIs have the potential to further drive financial inclusion.
“Our expectations are that this decision will enable innovators to monetize 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?” Muzzolini added.
How to access the MTN Mobile Money API.
Previously, developers had to submit paperwork physically to MTN Uganda. A slow and lengthy standard integration followed. However, the MTN Mobile Money API will now be accessed by developers online through the MoMo Developer Portal. The online portal has a sandbox where a developer tests their product at no cost before it goes live.
The UGX 1 Billion start up fund
On the same night, MTN also announced the launch of a UGX 1 Billion Start-up Fund that local technology start-ups in Uganda will access. The fund will provide a financial boost to start-ups that participate in the MTN innovation challenge series.
The first challenge will be the MTN Open API Challenge 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 with evolving roles. Today, opening the Mobile Money API further emphasizes 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 UGX 1 Billion commitment we have made towards the MTN Start-up Fund also forms part of that ambition to continue supporting local innovators. I encourage as many start-ups as possible to participate in the several innovation challenges we shall be hosting to access funding from the MTN Start-up Fund.”
MTN unveiled UGX 310 million high speed internet connectivity
MTN Uganda CEO unveiled a UGX 310 million high speed internet connectivity package to the Innovation Village. The package includes free internet connectivity for use by young developers and innovators as part of its youth empowerment drive.
In 2015, Safaricom opened up the M-Pesa API to entice local and international developers into creating innovative new uses. This brought tremendous success Kenya.
MTN Uganda in partnership with several innovation hubs will facilitate the training of developers on how to use the platform. Free training program is available for registration on MTN website. Consequently, more people will be able to take advantage of the open API.