2023 Digital and Financial Inclusion Summit: Ecosystem Players Advocate for Infrastructure Enhancement for Financial Inclusion

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During the 2023 Digital and Financial Inclusion Summit, industry stakeholders noted the need for improved infrastructure to improve business operations and counter the surging instances of fraud.

Held at Kampala Serena Hotel, the 2023 Digital and Financial Inclusion Summit was organized by HiPipo in partnership with Level One Project, Mojaloop Foundation, INFITX, Cyberplc Academy, Ideation Corner, and Crosslake Technologies and generously supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Sanyu Gila, who graduated from university in 2015, found herself unable to secure formal employment. This led her to explore the potential of the mobile money agent business as an alternative means of livelihood.

“Over the years, I have grown and scaled this business, but it hasn’t been without challenges. Fraud prompted the closure of some outlets I had opened. Inexperienced employees posed vulnerabilities to my business resulting in big losses. The declining telecom commissions, taxes, and network issues have also eroded customer trust in some of the products,” Gila shared.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Aturinda Tryphine and Gloria Mirembe; also, Mobile Money Agents during the summit, which focused on ensuring the safety of customers’ funds and platform security.

The summit fostered discussions essential for advancing digital and financial inclusion across Africa.

“We face capital limitations. Sometimes you forego bigger transactions because you do not have enough float. As a result, you miss out on commission as well as customers who may not come back to you,” Gloria said.

Hon. Joyce Nabbosa Ssebugwawo, the Minister of State for ICT, stressed the necessity of enhancing Fintech infrastructure to safeguard customers and agents.

“HiPipo has championed digital financial inclusion excellence. As we navigate this era, our efforts should extend beyond to empower underserved communities. FinTech has reshaped business, but the escalating cyber threats highlight the need for cybersecurity,” she remarked.

National Payment Switch taking shape.

The anticipated launch of a national switch in payment processing in the near future aims to revolutionize financial transactions, enhance liquidity management, and streamline Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism capabilities. This initiative is forecasted to strengthen cyber surveillance while significantly reducing transaction costs for retail digital payments such as mobile money users.

Andrew Kawere, the Deputy Director of the National Payments Systems at the Bank of Uganda, said the primary objective of the national switch is to act as a catalyst for efficiency and interoperability, promoting standardized practices in financial transactions.

“We envisage the national switch being delivered as a safe and affordable public good that supports innovation. Digital transformation has been proven to have a positive impact on financial inclusion by providing an avenue for the disadvantaged to access financial services and to participate in the money economy,” he said.

The summit gathered key stakeholders driving digital and financial service adoption across Africa, including policymakers, young entrepreneurs, and innovators.

Dr. Warren Carew, Managing Director at INFTX, noted the challenges in developing an interoperability system.

“Addressing fraud in mobile money platforms requires identity infrastructure. Focusing on interoperability can reduce barriers to financial services,” Carew noted.

Innocent Kawooya, the HiPipo CEO, applauded the project’s partners for their thoughtful commitment to enhancing digital and financial inclusion across Africa.

He noted that through partnerships and deliberate support, a lot of ground has been covered with millions of end-users onboarded on to the digital and financial inclusion train in the last decade. Nonetheless, he said that much more effort is needed for complete inclusion to be achieved.