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Swifin to deepen Uganda’s digital finance access

By Benon Ojiambo

Added 9th November 2016 09:46 AM

It is targeting reaching at least a million users by the end of its first year of operation

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Annette Kihuguru (2nd R), Ecobank Uganda’s executive director addressing the media at the Swifin launch at Hotel Africana. Looking on is Dr. Braun (L), Okumu (2nd L) and Dr. Linus Etube, Swifin’s Chief Operations Officer. Photo by Benon Ojiambo

Access to finance in Uganda’s rural areas is likely to increase following a partnership between Ecobank Uganda and AinFin Limited, a UK-based financial technology company that provides. The partnership meant rolling out of Swifin digital financial services across the African continent.

Developed by AinFin Limited, Swifin shall enable clients to receive payments from third parties, manage their finances and execute digital payment transactions with merchants and individuals in real-time.

Swifin provides access to online banking capability which enables users to transact and monitor all financial transactions online and also enables phone owners to use their phones through the SWIFIN Mobile App to access banking and financial transactions services on the move.

AinFin‘s collaborative engagement with local bank was described as one to bring both leading technology to its partners and opens up opportunities for them to become part of a global transactions ecosystem.

Starting in Uganda with a target of reaching at least a million users by the end of its first year of operation, Swifin plans to roll out digital transaction services across the continent through the bank’s Pan-African banking group.

While speaking at a function that saw the partnership at Hotel Africana over the weekend, Dr. Jocelyn Braun, AinFin’s chief executive and co-founder said: “We are working with, rather than in competition with banks to develop a system that benefits all, boosting client reach for established financial players and enriching the lives of millions of unbanked end users through filling a significant market gap by offering global multi-currency transaction capability,”

Dr. Braun also described her visit to Uganda, her inaugural trip to Africa as one that has changed the way she has been thinking about the continent due to the warm welcome and hospitality she was accorded by the Ugandan people.

Annette Kihuguru, Ecobank Uganda’s executive director said Uganda’s digital finance penetration currently stands at 24% with more concentration in urban centres. As a result, the partnership is to concentrate their operations in the rural areas with the majority population without financial services.

“By broadening access to the latest financial technology, the partnership shall boost economic activity by providing financial liquidity and a democratized banking service to the majority population that lives in remote and unbanked population,” Kihuguru said.

However, the partnership is also banking on recent amendment in the 2004 Financial Institutions Act that paved way for agency banking and this is expected to boost and expand the reach of banks in the country through the use of financial technology such as that offered by Swifin.

“We are currently building our agents’ network across the country,” Fred Okumu, Swifin’s managing director said.

“We need to fuel up the movement of money as we moves towards a cashless economy because the faster money moves in an economy, the faster we create wealth for people,” Fred Okumu

Okumu explained that they are driven by the desire of including more Ugandans onto the digital grid as a way of access to financial services. This, to Okumu, shall also drive financial inclusion in Uganda.

Being a cloud-based, the platform allows a user to transact through it without restrictions of affiliation to any mobile network, Okumu further explained.

The service is also expected to support a global push involving businesses, financial institutions, governments, United and Community leaders to scale up access and to help alleviate poverty, boost job creation and directly help disadvantaged people manage risk and absorb shocks.

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