I remember a couple of years back about 7 to be precise, I went to a bank in town (I won’t disclose) and I asked them to avail me a Visa Card that I could use to shop online. 7 years later, I am still shocked at the answer they gave me; “Sir you will need 10 million shillings (about $3900) to have that kind of card”.
But as the banking sector was liberalized, many banks entered the market and the competition has forced them to innovate and release products that help retain clients.
Now, even in Uganda, you can shop online like anyone else with a few exceptions of the global online stores that are country and location specific. You can also shop at your favorite store any where in the world as long as they support online shopping and can ship to a preferred location. The unfortunate bit is that most of the global online stores don’t offer shipping to Africa or beyond a stipulated range outside of their location.
This however hasn’t stopped people from shopping online. I for example shop online and then ship the product to any colleague of mine nearest to the stipulated shipping area who then arranges how to get it to me in Africa either by DHL if its urgent or wait for someone who is traveling to Uganda.
Beyond just shopping online, I make payments for services online like pay fees for a professional course, purchase an app or pay for hosting of my personal website. While this was very complex a few years ago, its quite simpler today. If you told someone you were shopping online while in Uganda, many would puzzled.
As payment systems which are part of the important infrastructure for E Commerce development become accessible, Shopping online is becoming way much easier. Even though it’s been available for a while, it wasn’t easy for people to own functional VISA credit/Debit cards. When the banks in Uganda would issued a Visa card, what they were actually giving you was a card that can helped you access your money wherever you saw the Visa card sign (for instance at an ATM or hotel) but not necessarily one that you can use to shop online.
There are two banks that are making that very easy. UBA and Crane Bank. Of course many others of the 24 Ugandan banks offer the service but not all make it as easy and simple yet still secure as the two I have named.
UBA offers its prepaid Chip and PIN card they are calling the UBA Africard. I was able to get the card in exactly 3 hours after I filled in the required documentation. A colleague affirmed that Crane Bank was the same and that getting a functional Card was not complicated. Most importantly, I was able to integrate my card with Paypal that further simplifies payment solutions not to mention that there were sufficient security checks that made using my card safe and secure.