News Column

Plan, Airtel Launch Savings Product

August 15, 2014

Trevor S Baleke

Plan Uganda, the Grameen Foundation and Airtel Uganda have partnered to enhance the security of the village savings and loan association (VSLA) model.

On Wednesday in Kamuli district, the trio launched a product that will allow VSLAs to store their savings using Airtel money. The product was made possible by a grant received from the GSMA Women Programme, which works with the mobile industry to increase women's use of mobiles.

According to a 2013 Finscope survey, two-thirds of adults in Uganda save money through informal groups. But while some financial institutions have offered accounts to secure savings and earn interest, most bank branches are found far away, in towns. Hence savers have been carrying large sums of money to towns, or storing it in their boxes, leading to rampant thefts.

Airtel Money Director Nuhu Kanyike said the service would incorporate three tools; group accounts, record management and mobile banking.

"A mobile wallet will support safe storage of group funds as mobile money. Regular mobile reports can be generated to summarize transactions during that period and the Airtel Group Savings product can be linked to bank accounts at financial institutions to allow access to interest-bearing savings and credit," Kanyike said.

Plan Uganda says it has helped open up and support 3,000 VSLAs across the country. Speaking at the launch, Country Director Abebe Fikru said: "A mobile phone has ceased to be merely a communication device. Instead, it has rapidly evolved into a safe and secure money transfer tool."

Officiating at the launch, Kamuli LC-V Chairperson Proscovia Salaamu Musumba said the technology should help improve the security of her voters' savings.

"With this new system, I am sure you will no longer come to my office to report your colleagues who have often stolen your savings from the ordinary boxes where you have been [keeping the money]," Musumba said.

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Source: AllAfrica

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