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

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  • 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

    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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  • 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.