What Happens to Dormant Mobile Money Accounts in Uganda

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Mobile Money Accounts has been the backbone of the informal sector since its onset in the early 2010s. They have helped bridge the gap for the unbanked in the whole Sub-Saharan Africa region and its prospects continue to grow each year.

However, with big power comes bigger responsibility. Today let’s discuss one of those responsibilities and understand what happens to a dormant mobile money account? Where does the money go and how long does it take for your account to become dormant?

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How Long Does It Take for Your Mobile Money Accounts to Be Dormant?

According to MTN customer service, if a mobile money account takes 9 months without any activity, it’s taken as dormant and you will have to visit the mobile money center to reactivate your mobile money account. You can call the customer care service and they will help walk you through how you can reactivate your account.

Airtel Money customer care service on the other hand noted once a phone number is inactive for 365 days, it’s disconnected and you will have to visit their services centers to reactivate them.

Mr. Mackay, the Director of National Payment Systems, Bank of Uganda said in a recent interview that it takes 9 months for a mobile money account to become dormant.

He furthered explained that in the 9 months, the electronic money issuer (mobile money providers i.e. Airtel and MTN) have to remind the accounts holder a month prior before the accounts become dormant and provide them with instructions on how they can make the accounts active.

After declaring the mobile money account dormant, the electronic money issuer or telecoms has an allowance of 6 more months before the mobile money account is fully closed. Giving a customer a total of 15 months before their mobile money accounts are fully closed.

Keep in mind, your mobile number can remain active meanwhile the mobile money accounts is inactive after the 15 months of inactivity.

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Also with the recent Nationals Systems Act passed, mobile money services are a different entity from the voice, SMS, and data businesses. You can watch and listen more to what Mr. Mackay said regarding the mobile money accounts and the National Systems Act below from YouTube.

So What’s Next After Your Account Is Dormant?

According to the National Payments Systems Act 2020, the money on dormant mobile money accounts is supposed to be remitted to the central bank by telecoms after 15 months of accounts inactivity.

The central bank then keeps the money for the next 7 years awaiting any claims from the mobile money accounts holder. If there are no claims after the 7 years, the money is then transferred to the government consolidated funds.

How to Claim Your Money From Your Mobile Money Accounts

Claiming money from the mobile money accounts comes under two circumstances. Either you are claiming money from your own account or a closed member of the family who has passed away or been imprisoned for a long time. Regarding your reason, here are the necessary steps and documents you need to follow up with the process.

Step One: Legal Documents i.e the Letters of Administration to confirm your responsibility in case you are claiming money on behalf of a deceased relative or member of the family. You can read more on how to apply for a letter of administration here.

If you are claiming money for yourself, you will need to have complete KYC documents. In this case, the National ID Number(NIN) registered or linked to the Simcard and mobile money accounts.

Step Two: Go to the nearest MTN or Airtel service center with a valid national ID to claim the money. The agents at the service center will provide you with the details regarding the way forward. Who will give you a call once your claims are approved and how long it will take for the claims to be approved.

Step Three: In case the telecoms have not given you proper guidelines or you feel your case has not been addressed well. You can go to the central bank i.e. Bank of Uganda and petition a case where they will be able to follow up.

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And that’s it for our piece regarding dormant mobile money accounts. Let us know in the comment sections if we skipped a process or something you want us to address.


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