Why Airtel Money, MTN Mobile Money are now separate companies

The Bank of Uganda recently issued licenses to Airtel Mobile Commerce Uganda Limited and MTN Mobile Money Uganda Limited to conduct various payments through their telecom-based channels. This signalled the separation of each company’s mobile money entity from its telecom business.

Airtel Mobile Commerce (AMC) is a subsidiary of Airtel Africa and the holding company for several of Airtel Africa’s mobile money operations. MTN Mobile Money Uganda Limited, part of the MTN Group, is as well in charge of the company’s mobile money operations in its operating markets.

The business separation complies with a new (enacted) law – the National Payment Systems (NPS) Act, 2020 – passed on 4th September 2020, and the NPS Regulations gazetted on March 5, 2021. This Act requires a separation of telecommunication services from mobile money. This has culminated in the formation of subsidiaries under which the telecoms will house the transactional segment. 

What happens next?

As a result, MTN Mobile Money Uganda Limited will now conduct all MTN MoMo Services in Uganda in partnership with and through the licensed telecommunications network of MTN Uganda. The telecom will then focus on the operation of telecommunication infrastructure and the provision of telecommunications services to its network subscribers and licensed operators.


Similarly, Airtel Mobile Commerce will now conduct all Airtel Money Services in Uganda in partnership with Airtel Uganda. This is while the telco operates the telecommunication infrastructure and provides corresponding services to subscribers and licensed operators.

Listing of the mobile money companies

There are some key prerequisites to fulfill for a telecom company to be awarded new operator licenses by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC). The notable one of these is to list at least 20 percent of its shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange. 

We know that most profits flow through the mobile money department, at least based on the volumes of activity. It is, thus, likely that the telecoms were required to set aside these departments as companies that are to be listed to USE. To this, the list detailing the Airtel Bharti global subsidiaries shows that the mother company only owns 68.31% of Airtel Mobile Commerce Uganda Limited. The 31.69%? It could account for the listing as well as other stakeholders involved. We are yet to ascertain this, but surely shall.

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Business continues as usual

When Airtel Uganda sent a message to its subscribers informing them of the migration, so many reacted suggesting that they should have been consulted before the move. The message read that “Your Airtel Money Account & related data is being transferred to Airtel Mobile Commerce (U) Ltd. Continued use of the Service shall be taken as your acceptance.

But in its whole sense, there was no need. This is because business shall continue precisely as has been. That is why ‘Continued use of the Service‘ implied that a customer was in acceptance of any background work that Airtel Uganda undertook.

Your deposits are safer

The enacted National Payment Systems (NPS) Act implies that the Bank of Uganda has now taken over the regulation of mobile money operations in the country. Well, this is significant and of importance, as it can help in doing away with conflicts arising from lost and never found mobile balances, among others. We also won’t hear again of scenarios where customers complain of their money being stolen following hacks and hijacks.

How do we confirm this? At least we know that all customer deposits are safe, secure, and kept in reputable commercial banks with the same level of protection as other bank accounts. Overall, two telecom companies and the Commercial Banks holding the customers’ funds are licensed, regulated, and supervised by the Bank of Uganda.

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