ICT Industry

Airtel Money, UNCDF launch Open APIs to Support Innovators Accelerate Digital Financial Inclusion

Airtel Mobile Commerce Uganda Limited (AMCUL) and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) have announced the launch of an open application programming interface (API) initiative that will grant innovators easy and secure online access to integrate their businesses with Airtel Money services, making it easier for them to offer payment services to various value chains.

The launch of this open APIs initiative is part of AMCUL’s mandate aimed at driving financial inclusion through the provision of digital financial services, without differentiation. It is part Airtel’s Africa’s commitment to Transforming Lives.

An API enables different systems to communicate to one another effectively, easing business processes and service delivery.

In Uganda today, the vast majority of APIs are private and only available to third parties at exorbitant costs. By opening their APIs to third party innovators, AMCUL will offer services that can enable merchants to transact with respective customers in a safe, instant, and secure way.

AMCUL Managing Director Japhet Aritho, said in a bid to deliver competent solutions that are customized to their customer’s needs.

“We endeavor to partner with a number of entities to ensure digital financial inclusion for all. We thrive on continuous research, innovation and introduction of products/ services that securely remove barriers.

“As such, AMCUL has partnered with key players in the digital financial space to empower and connect our low-income customers with access to and utilization of digital services that leverage innovation and technology to promote financial inclusion.  This will be achieved through the open API initiative that we have launched today,” said Aritho.

He added that the success of such developments which accelerate the integration of merchants with Airtel Money across the country are hinged on impactful strategies as exhibited today.

UNCDF’s partnership with AMCUL is part of its flagship program to drive the growth of inclusive digital economies. Fostering inclusive innovation to deliver affordable services to low-income communities in Uganda, such as smallholder farmers, women, refugees, youth, and MSMEs, is an integral element of this digital agenda.

Since 2017, UNCDF has been convening the country’s digital financial services industry players to promote lowering the barriers to accessing key APIs and open the innovation space for new solutions to benefit everyone, particularly underserved customers.

UNCDF Digital Regional Manager, East and Southern Africa, Mike McCaffrey said over the last ten years, Uganda’s digital financial services ecosystem has grown exponentially, majorly driven by mobile money.

“The next wave of growth in Uganda’s digital economy will require more innovation beyond payments. Third-party innovators are looking for the opportunity to integrate directly and easily into existing digital systems and infrastructure.

“By opening their APIs to third-party innovators, financial services providers like Airtel Money foster the growth of new solutions customized to the needs of the population, especially the rural and low-income populations,” said McCaffrey.

Manoji Murali, the Managing Director Airtel Uganda thanked AMCUL leadership for the good working relationship that supports the agenda for Transforming Lives.

“We have continued to provide the necessary infrastructure to partners like AMCUL to support their agenda for accelerating digital financial inclusion.

We have a sound network, that is now 5G ready, that provides a good platform for innovators, problem-solvers and such players to create opportunities for growth for individuals and communities,” said Murali.

Dr. Chris Baryomunsi Minister of ICT & National Guidance commended the initiatives and effort made towards promoting digital financial inclusion and applauded all the present entities for the tremendous effort made.

“The decision to leverage on technology and innovation in the quest to drive financial empowerment is a smart approach towards financial inclusion right from the grassroots.

“I am pleased to learn that with open APIs, more people can have access to affordable digital financial services to suit any need in any sector whether its health, agriculture, education, among others.

“These are the right firm steps taken to impact the bigger picture. As such, I would like to appreciate Airtel Money and all partners present here for the tremendous work done with today’s launch of the open APIs initiative,” he said.