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Somasekhar VG

By Omondi Julius Odera, Kampala, Uganda

Airtel has partnered with Umeme, Uganda's leading electricity distributor, to offer Ugandans an easier means of paying their electricity bills through the Airtel Money system. The mobile phone platform allows Umeme consumers registered with Airtel money to access their bank accounts and transfer funds to pay their electricity bills from the comfort of their homes or anywhere anytime.

The service dubbed ‘Umeme touch pay system’ is described as a first of its kind in the market today. To use it, customers should dial *100# in order to access the Umeme touch pay system.

The Airtel Money service also allows customers to pay utility bills, DSTV subscription fees, shop and pay with Airtel Money in designated shops, transfer money across mobile networks, and to undertake banking transactions including paying in-cash, and withdrawing cash from the bank and from the automated teller machines (ATM).

Umeme Chief Financial Officer Selestino Babungi explained that touch pay solutions would involve payments at banks, both over-the-counter and through ATMs, and payments by internet and phone banking.

"This means customers can pay bills at any hour of the day or night and avoid disconnection. Our focus is increasing customer convenience in all ways possible," Babungi said.

He also commended their partnering with Airtel, "This means customers can pay bills at any hour of the day or night and avoid disconnection. Our focus is increasing customer convenience in all ways possible"

Speaking at the launch, Somasekhar VG, Managing Director of Airtel Uganda, said: “We are proud to partner with Umeme in this innovation. It costs twice as much for Ugandans to travel back and forth, braving heavy queues while struggling to pay their Umeme bills. But today I am happy to declare that Ugandans will no longer hustle with bill payments and will be able to save up to 50% in expenses when they pay their umeme bills using the ‘Umeme touch pay system’ Airtel Money transfer service is instant simple and secure,” he added.

Airtel Uganda Public relations Officer explained, “The service will cost between UGX 200 to 2000 depending on how much money a client is sending” He also adds: “One will get an instant confirmation receipt after the transaction which he can always send to an e-mail to print for future reference”

Somasekhar also noted that Airtel seeks to deliver relevant and innovative mobile solutions to help customers overcome the daily challenges of handing large sums which may attract unwanted attention, as well as save customers the trouble of wasting time in long queues to transfer cash “you no longer have to carry money – all you need is your Airtel mobile telephone” he said.

“Our goal as a company is to make communications, banking, payments, retail and infotainment affordable and accessible to all in Uganda,”. With access to over 5015 locations to the banked and unbanked, Ugandans and Small businesses have benefitted from Airtel Money services which has provided tremendous growth.” Somasekhar emphasized.

Airtel Uganda Mobile Money service that was launched early this year has registered a steady growth with over one million clients out of the four million Airtel subscribers. Its agent network is also growing with over 7000 country wide.

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