Kenya and Uganda have a lot in common; both love Ugali/Posho, they both share the same colonial masters, and both use the Shilling as the currency. Sending money between both countries has been historically tricky, but not anymore.
Today, there are several options of sending money between both countries. Some options work both ways — that is you can send money from Uganda to Kenya and vice versa while others are one way streets.
Before you choose your options, here a few things you should look out for when sending money to another country;
- Be aware of the Exchange rates: Most if not all these money remittance services take advantage of exchange rates when sending money. Ask for the service provider’s exchange rate between your native currency and the receiving currency. Ignoring this detail will get you losing a lot of money blindly.
- Transaction time: When you want to send money, It’s usually because you want to meet an urgent need. Therefore the time it takes between sending the money and the recipient getting it is critical. New modern digital money transfer providers are faster. In fact, transaction time is usually in minutes or hours. The more traditional players such as Banks and Western Union take days.
- Payment method: Before you send money, you have to Fund your account or Pay the remittance provider. There are about four popular ways; i) mobile money in which case you top up via your Mobile money wallet. This is by far the most convenient way ii) Bank transfer in which case you make a bank transfer to the provider. iii) credit/debit card. You simply fund your account your Visa or MasterCard enable card iv) Agent. This is popular with Western Union, Money Gram and also Mobile Money networks too.
- Receiving method: Consider how your recipient will get the money. The most convenient means today is through Mobile phone number usually registered with Mobile Money Account. Safaricom’s M-Pesa and MTN’s Mobile money are the biggest Mobile money networks in Africa. Most but not all money transfer providers usually support receiving money in mobile wallets. However, Mobile wallets usually have transaction limits. Other methods include pickup at partner agent networks where the recipient only needs some form of identification.
So here are some of the options you can use to send money across the border.
MTN Mobile Money to Safaricom M-Pesa
MTN and Safaricom are both the marketshare leaders in their respective countries. The two giants have agreed to work together for cross-border money transfers.
To send money from MTN Uganda Mobile money network, you can use your own account if you have one or use Mobile Money agent. There is really no different in terms of charges. To send Money to Safaricom M-Pesa, dial the following code;
*165*1(send money)*2(East Africa)*1(Safaricom Mpesa).
You’ll be prompted to enter the receipt’s number starting with Kenya’s country code 254 followed by the number. Then the amount you wish to send in Ugx. MTN will show you the sending charges in Ugx, the Forex rate and the amount in KES. The charges are quite high here. For instance sending Ugx 1.5m cost me Ugx 33,450 in charges.
Use MTN Mobile money if;
- Sending less than Ugx 5,000,000
- Already have MTN Mobile money account
- Want Instant money transfer
Fintech Apps: Barter and Chipper Cash
If you are looking to save a bit of money on transfer charges, then you might want to consider a constellation of new Fintech apps. Lets be clear, mentions are not endorsements.
First off our sleeves is Flutterwave’s Rave or Barter App. The Rave App is targeted towards business users. It costs a flat fee of only 45 KES in charges to send money to any M-Pesa account from your Flutterwave account. You must of course first fund your account. You can also use their retailed focused product called Barter. You can not only send money to Mobile money number but also a bank account.
Another App we have tested is Chipper cash. You can send money Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana, Tanzania, Nigeria and Uganda with very minimal fee. Chipper cash started off with Zero charges on their money transfers, but they recently added a “small fee”.
If you are looking at saving as much as possible on transfer fees, then Chipper cash could be your best option. It’s fast and instant and quite cheap. Using Fintech apps usually requires you to download the App first, register for an Account before you start transacting which can be inconvenient for some people.
Use Fintech remittance Apps if;
- Want to save on transfer charges.
- Sending small amounts of money usually below Ugx 4,000,000.
- Frequently send small amounts of money.
Traditional: Money Gram/Western Union and Banks
If you have huge amounts of money you wish you transfer, then the best bet is going old school. It’s slow, but sure and safe. MTN Mobile Money will limit you to about Ugx 5m while Fintech Apps such as Chipper cash will limit you to Ugx 4m. But the old guard will let you roll as much as your pockets can support but at a cost; time and money.
Money Gram and Western Union have the largest agent network and the largest availability across countries. Western Union alone has over 550,000 agent locations across 200 countries while Money Gram has over 350,000 agents in 200 countries. These providers don’t require the recipient to have a bank account or Mobile phone number. All the recipient needs is a valid ID. Today, almost every adult has at least a mobile phone, so this isn’t a comparative advantage anymore. You want to use Money Gram or Western Union if;
- Recipient doesn’t have Bank account or Mobile wallet.
- Sending large amounts of money.
- You don’t wish to use Bank or Mobile Money
Using banks is super slow. Money sometimes goes through several other banks before it reaches the recipient’s bank. It takes days (1-4 days) for money to reach the recipient and if you want it faster, you pay more. These slow-moving giants and can charge up to 10% of the transaction which is ridiculously expensive. Sometime it’s a flat fee. In some cases, the recipient’s bank account is charged if you specify or you can both share the charge. You should ask your bank all these details before you choose to use them. You want to use banks if;
- Transferring large amounts of money.
- You already have a bank account and your bank has good e-banking systems.
- Recipient also has a bank account.
The list of options keeps growing everyday especially for inter-state African Money transfers. If you are in diaspora and are looking to send money to Kenya, the options are also numerous.