80% of Ugandans aren’t served by banks or other formal financial services providers. At the same time, Mobile Money (MM) has emerged as a way to enable people in the most remote areas to transfer money using their mobile phone. The mobile money infrastructure could be used for other products – like saving accounts, or loans – but so far, it’s only been used for remittances and bill payments. What other products – savings, loans, insurance – could the mobile money channel deliver to the poor?


CGAP Mobile Money
  • About the Challenge

    Today, few banks cater to poor or rural consumers in Uganda – it’s expensive to build branches in rural areas and it’s difficult to make money serving customers who only have a few dollars a month to save or spend. As a result, only 1 in 5 Ugandans are banked, and 1 in 2 lack access to any financial services at all.

    As a result, most use informal tools, which aren’t always sufficient in addressing their needs:   

    • Managing shocks:  For many Ugandans, unexpected shocks – an illness for a family member, a drought that wipes out a farmer’s livelihood – can send a poor family into debt
    • Building assets:  With few formal investing options, many poor users invest in their businesses, which often for farmers means livestock – but a bad business cycle or an disease afflicting their cattle or pigs could wipe out their entire savings  
    • Financial planning:  The poor do plan – they know expenses are coming, and they know what their current options are to address those expenses – but they don’t have any formal tools to help them manage cash coming in or going out

    Most adults either own a mobile phone or have access to one, which has contributed to growth of mobile money.  Today, there are 2.5 million registered users in Uganda, and it’s increasing by the day as people take advantage of the faster, more secure way to send money.  However, the infrastructure that allows money to flow from a city to the village could be used for much more than simple payments.

    We want to see what else mobile money can offer to help poor Ugandans manage their money.  We need to think big – we want solutions that can scale across millions of customers to support an offer that is affordable to the poor and sustainable for our partners.  We want something new, something different, something that changes the relationship between people and their money.  

    AppLab has partnered with CGAP to develop new products to offer over the mobile money channel.  Help us find ways to make sure mobile financial services reach the poorest users in Uganda.

  • About the Sponsor

    CGAP The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) is an independent policy and research center dedicated to advancing financial access for the world's poor. It is supported by more than 30 development agencies and private foundations that share a common mission to alleviate poverty. Housed at the World Bank, CGAP provides market intelligence, promotes standards, develops innovative solutions and offers advisory services to governments, microfinance providers, donors and investors. The Technology Program at CGAP is co-funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CGAP and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). For more information, visit

    Find out more
  • Challenge Timeline

    April 20, 2012

    Deadline for submission

    Posted on January 21, 2012

    During focus groups, we saw that people found the concept of sending money to themselves - me2me - very intuitive.  They "got" it!

    Posted on

    True or false: Farmers spend up to 80% of cash earnings on school fees.  (Yup, it's true, according to some folks we talked with in Mbale!)

    Our first challenge has launched!  Looking forward to seeing the great ideas that come through.

    Posted on February 22, 2012

    We talked with another person today who is what Ali calls an “agent on the fringe.”  In villages that lack MM agents, some individuals conduct transactions on behalf of others through their own personal MM account.  Today Yiga Joseph, a bike repairman, said he conducts roughly 10 withdrawals and...

    > View full timeline
  • Newest Ideas

    Yello school

    Provide rewards to schools that accept MM payments for their fees. The rewards would be in the form of points (AppLab Money Incubator team).

    Julius Matovu Researcher

    Saving to a common goal

    Groups within communities would put resources towards saving to a common goal—such as improvement of school or well (AppLab Money Incubator team).

    Julius Matovu Researcher

    Mobile loan officer

    This allows CKW, MM or other agents to act as last mile loan approvers. The agent is given the credit scoring of potential borrower who is in their community. They then approve, or do not approve, the loan to that ind...

    Dorothy Ogolla Student

    Money with love

    Allows MM transfers to be gift-wrapped to facilitate a more personalized transaction message. Messages could be sentimental (i.e. “I love you”, “I miss you”) or convey how the cash should be used (“School fees for fir...

    Dorothy Ogolla Student

    Input credit based on buyers contact

    Link large scale inputs with buying contracts. Farmers have periods of high expenditure when they have to buy, but rather they get inputs on credit based on the contract they have with the buyer. So when harvest comes...

    Dorothy Ogolla Student

    me2me for school fees

    This product presents savings as a future payment to oneself but in this case the payment is earmarked for school fees (AppLab Money Incubator team)

    Julius Matovu Researcher

    The Ag Calculator [SAIS]

    The Mobile Agricultural Savings Product is a calculator that allows farmers to keep track of savings for specific upcoming cash expenditures along a set time horizon. First, the user would enter a cash figure for the ...

    Simon Okot Other

    Agent liquidity tracker

    Allow CKWs to become small value agents and incorporate an application that allows users to reserve float (for specific time period) from a CKW who has it and is close

    Simon Okot Other

    Micro-franchising MM business

    Create a system and processes that makes it easier for MTN agents to recruit and manage sub-agents or micro-franchises. Sub-agents could be fixed or mobile.

    Simon Okot Other

    Employee credit

    Create a product that facilitates employees (from both big and small businesses) to accumulate money and offer credit to members on top of MM platform. Such groups are often supported by employers as part of their emp...

    Dorothy Ogolla Student

    Transaction credit record builder [SAIS]

    Use MM transaction history to develop a credit score for an individual, allow financial institutions to use this as proxy to provide better lending services to customers.

    Simon Okot Other

    Reverse KIVA

    People in the US or Europe often need relatively small amounts of money – say, $5,000 – as a loan for something. Website in the UK have popped up that allow one person to loan another money and receive interest, so p...

    Dorothy Ogolla Student

    Alea Alea savings [SAIS]

    Alea Alea is traditional labor rotation system in northern Uganda; 12-30 member households, each “hosts” group in exchange for labor. However, it places severe constraint on income. A group-based mobile savings prod...

    Dorothy Ogolla Student

    Mobile Coop Savings Plan [SAIS]

    Allow secure transfer of a farmer’s earnings to savings at collection point. Enable the digital payout of targeted or time deposit savings. At collection point, provide collection operator asks how much farmer wan...

    Dorothy Ogolla Student

    Animal step savings

    This product simulates the progression of one’s savings by using the analogy of keeping one’s wealth in animals. Goals can be set in terms of animals that one would accumulate and users can trade animals for others al...

    Dorothy Ogolla Student

    Ag savings ("Self insurance”)

    For farmers, insurance is hard to come by. With this product, farmers can contribute to a savings account that they can only access if there is an agricultural shock – the savings account acts as a sort of “self-insu...

    Dorothy Ogolla Student

    “Keep your egg”

    The Egg is a savings product tailored towards younger savers that combines the fun of a digital game with the real-life reward of savings (by Fletcher).

    Julius Matovu Researcher


    The MTN MoneyBox transports the traditional “locked box” to MTN’s MM platform to provide a secure and fun way to save for goals. MoneyBox users purchase e-value cards from airtime vendors to deposit money into a sub-a...

    Julius Matovu Researcher

    Saving group mobile money account

    Village savings groups can use MM instead of a savings box to keep their balances (Possiano Teretere)

    Julius Matovu Researcher

    Savings goat race

    A group of savings members get together and decide to save towards a goal. As they contribute, their progress towards the goal is tracked against each other—simulating a goat race (by Ali Ndiwalana).

    Julius Matovu Researcher

    Savings game

    Create a social multi-player savings game that can be played in groups. Users can sign up to a savings plan/goal individually or as a group. Then challenge each other towards reaching their plan/goal by playing a gam...

    Julius Matovu Researcher

    Direct savings deposit

    This product automatically funnels a % of cash received to the MM wallet into a separate sub-account ( by AppLab Money Incubator team)

    Julius Matovu Researcher

    Loan Tracking System on MM

    Besides empowering users to repay their loans via MM, this product would sync MM system with loan tracking system to allow an individual monitor the progress of loans they have taken out from Financial Institutions. P...

    Richard Nuwagaba Entrepreneur

    M-Banking Youth Education initiative [SAIS]

    The Mobile Banking Youth Education (MBYE) initiative will create a ‘simulation’ of various financial services currently offered and accessible in Uganda and will deliver the simulation over a mobile platform in a stru...

    Richard Nuwagaba Entrepreneur

    Advance input/supply purchase

    During parts of the year when farmers have money (e.g from harvests), they can buy coupons/vouchers via mobile money from a local supplier and then use these coupons/vouchers later to redeem seeds/inputs/supplies for ...

    Richard Nuwagaba Entrepreneur

    E-Money gift card

    Remittances are the most common use of current mobile money services, but there is no good way to ensure that money sent to someone is used for its intended purpose. With this product, friends and relatives can send a...

    Richard Nuwagaba Entrepreneur

    Mobile aid [SAIS]

    Use the mobile phone to deliver aid directly to the hands of the poor consumer. Work with existing MFIs/aid orgs etc. to identify individuals needing aid and deliver to individuals on their e-wallet through mobile ...

    Richard Nuwagaba Entrepreneur

    Mobile micro-pension plan [SAIS]

    Allow users to save for retirement via their e-wallet. Can use defined contribution plan; annuity purchase; penalty for early withdrawals; have it professionally managed (students estimate it’s sustainable at >100...

    Richard Nuwagaba Entrepreneur

    Mobile money health card

    This is a personalized card that people buy from an MM agent and keep saving money to it via MM (in any increment, at any pace) to cater for their medical expenses. When one falls sick, they can present the card to th...

    Richard Nuwagaba Entrepreneur

    Buses as roving MM agents

    People can buy and sell e-value to the bus conductor, so that buses won't have so much cash on hand all the time as they do their circuits. Idea generated during ideation session

    Richard Nuwagaba Entrepreneur

    Mobile transport

    Use mobile money for demand-driven “necessity” purchases – such as food, water, etc. Start with transport – mini bus taxis (matatus). Allow customers to pay via mobile money – straight-forward transaction from the e...

    Richard Nuwagaba Entrepreneur

    Social credit scoring

    This allows communities to build up their own credit ratings to facilitate more financial services coming into those communities.

    Julius Matovu Researcher

    Online/offline loan officer

    This allows individuals to turn on and off their “lender status”, being on when they have cash to lend out, and off when they do not.

    Julius Matovu Researcher

    Customized company MM wallet for farmers

    A MM product that allows farmer to ‘commit’ to a certain product/sale, to an agricultural buyer /company [company X.] Company X establishes a ‘wallet’ with MTN; When Company X makes agreement with farmer on amount ...

    Jill Shemin Entrepreneur

    True Savings

    Mobile Money Account partitioning; have two MM account sections. 1. For the usually MM transactions (current functions) 2. Savings section to which interest is earned

    Simon Okot Other

    Mobile Funds Transfer

    Transferring a small percentage of airtime money loaded on the users' Mobile Money account. Since most mobile users are prepaid customers, they can subscribe to a free service which allows a percentage of their a...

    Dorothy Ogolla Student

    Mobile-Mary Go round

    Pair Mary go round concept with Mobile Money to create a joint account for the members involved, in this account members could contribute any amount of money they have at any time before the maturity date and on matur...

    Bridget Nakajubi Entrepreneur

    Employee Credit

    Product to help employees better manage group-saving and loan activities at work

    Ali Ndiwalana Other

    Peer to Peer Lending through Mobile Money

    This a product that offers an opportunity for lenders to register into a service that attaches them to a large network of borrowers. Lenders can stipulate the interest rate, term of loan, and amount category (e.g. 1-1...

    Julius Matovu Researcher

    Mobile Money Item "Purchase"

    Most times, people wish to save money towards a goal like buying a piece of land, a chicken, goat or a cow. However many other needs come up along the way and they use that money to meet those needs especially if they...

    Gilbert Agaba Byarugaba Entrepreneur

    Mobile Money Fixed Deposits

    Fixed deposits are interest-yielding term deposit offered by most financial institutions. At the moment these are enjoyed mainly by the middle and upper class in Africa. The poor in rural communities are constrained a...

    Richard Nuwagaba Entrepreneur

    Lottery health insurance

    People love to gamble, but they dont love to pay for insurance. Imagine if there was an insurance product structured like a lottery--every time that you pay your premium, you recieve a lottery ticket and the chance to...

    Olga Morawczynski Other

    Managed Credit to Merchants

    This idea assists with helping merchants manage their liquidity. As a customer it is very annoying and disconcerting to turn up to your local MM agent to find they have no money in their account or till and cannot hel...

    Lee-Anne Pitcaithly Entrepreneur

    Virtual Credit Cards (VCC)

    Via Mobile Money provide poor people with virtual credit cards in a closed loop system for payments.

    Lee-Anne Pitcaithly Entrepreneur

    E-Money “Gift Certificate” (i.e., Restricted Money Send)

    What if you could send money to someone for a specific reason and be confident it was being used for that purpose? Gift Certificates or Gift Cards are often used, which provides the same value as cash but are restric...

    Lisa Kienzle Other
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  • Grace Kemigisha

    Barter App

    If traders don't have money but want to barter their goods, a mobile application that can suggest how many carrots to barter for a kilo of beans could be more useful than actually exchanging cash that both traders do not have as yet.

  • Bridget Nakajubi

    Mobile-Mary Go round
    Pair Mary go round concept with Mobile Money to create a joint account for the members involved, in this account members could contribute any amount of money they have at any time before the maturity date and on maturity the account only becomes active for the intended beneficially to withdraw the money. This will improve the rural women’s saving culture, solve the problem of members failing to contribute to the pool on a specified date and will reduce conflicts that image in these groups over failure to contribute.

  • Hayley Shields

    Educational savings accounts where small sums can be transfered and accounts accessed by multiple users to deposit ie. extended family members. Funds transfered to schools.