Two Million Businesses to benefit from Interoperable merchant payment switch

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Private Sector Foundation Uganda’s new Chief Programs and Projects Officer, Damali Ssali in April presented about the vast business and investment opportunities that Uganda’s private sector offers through its umbrella arm, PSFU at the PI-18 Mojaloop community meeting organised by Gates Foundation and Mojaloop Foundation.

Top of the discussion was PSFU partnering with local and international tech giants, the central bank and private foundations, and donor agencies to build the first-ever Ugandan Private sector-led Instant and Inclusive Payment System that will enable consumers and merchants alike to transact and make digital payments seamlessly across East African borders.

While Uganda has experienced strong economic growth and progress in the usage of digital financial services, at least 40% of Uganda’s adult population is still financially excluded, especially in rural areas. This provides for a largely untapped market that financial services providers can explore and innovate. Effective uptake of Digital financial services can support reaching these harder-to-reach users, the majority of whom are low-income consumers, and bring them into the formal financial ecosystem. More attention is required of a wider segment of industry stakeholders to what is undeniably the future of digital financial services, interoperability. Experience globally proves that interoperability substantially strengthens the value proposition for customers of digital payments by decreasing costs while improving convenience and allowing the market as a whole to take off and in the end the achieved scale justifies the need for adopting interoperability, as a study by the Level One Project references.

For instance, the cost of moving money across MNOs, banks, and MFIs is still so high across the economy and is not real-time. Someone has to cause deliberate and collaborative action across sectors to create affordable digital systems that facilitate instant and inclusive digital payments.

Damali Ssali is an integral member of the FinTech network in Uganda, she is engaged regularly to provide her expertise and input on financial services, trade, and policy aspects in FinTech. She has engaged with the Ugandan FinTech community for the last three years and this time in the capacity of Chief Programs and Project Officer at the Private Sector Foundation Uganda, she presented a case of onboarding more than two million merchant businesses by creating an interoperable payment switch to power a countrywide merchant payments use case. Damali presented with Innocent Kawooya, the HiPipo, CEO.

Others in the week-long meeting included executives from the Gates Foundation, Mojaloop Foundation, HiPipo Foundation, Crosslake Technologies, ModusBox, Coil, Bank of Tanzania, RFP, and a Team from Bank of Tanzania and Tanzania Instant Payment Switch among others.

Over the last eight years until June 2021, Damali served as Country Director leading the team at Trademark East Africa (TMEA), and during this period, working with the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives supported the Ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the Ratification of the World Trade Organisation Trade Facilitation Agreement and the Bilateral Trade Agreement between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Also, working with the Ministry of Works and Transport to deliver the Cross Border Trade Facilitation Infrastructure portfolio of five One-Stop Border Posts (OSBPs) and With the Uganda Revenue Authority, to deliver the Uganda Electronic Single Window and the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System to enable the automation of trade process and ease the movement of cargo.