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Saturday, August 14 2010
On a Sunday morning in Mbarara town wanting to check out of the hotel room but before that I had to clear my hotel bill having spent a night after a wedding but coincidentally all the ATMs were not working at the same time. It was strange but true.
I hold an account with Barclays bank and since it is visa enabled, there was no need to carry cash on me after all I could withdraw anywhere with a visa sign. This was of course after starting with my own bank which was not working at the time.
For fear of crossing over to another day in the hotel, I was forced to make a quick decision. I went to Standard Chartered Bank which of course would charge me about 5,000 as a charge for the visa service now that I'm not their customer but that was okay with me now that any delay in the hotel would attract a night's charge and yet I was not about to spend an extra night in Mbarara.
Standard Chartered ATM was not working as well, crossed to Stanbic Bank, Crane Bank which were all not working at the time. I was too desperate that I even crossed to Equity Bank which for one reason or the other not advertised that their ATMs are visa enabled.
But because this is the only option that saved me from my situation, I had no choice but to write about them. I went for the ATM machine, put in my card, it took a bit of time before responding scaring me the more because it is one thing to have an ATM card and the machines are not working and another thing not to have an ATM because it has been swallowed up by an ATM machine, in this way even if the service resumed, you would not be able to withdraw money for lack of an ATM card.
The machine later asked me to put my details of how much I wanted and there I saw the money. I also noticed something unique about its dispensing mechanism, it gives you all denominations so if you are the type who wanted loose notes, there will be no need of looking for change money.
Sunday, June 27 2010
New Business Opportunities are coming up as a result of economic and technological advancement. This has resulted in new jobs and boosted people's incomes as seen below:
Easy load indeed. In the past one had to buy airtime from a vendor and oh yes up to now only that it is more convenient than it was before. Through Mobile Money, one can buy airtime and also send money to their loved ones.
Assuming you are in a precarious situation and you need airtime there and then but with no airtime vendors around you can use mobile money on condition that you have any balance above Shs100. Talk of new trends, some have even started vending airtime depending on the situation.
The City is flooded with supermarkets and all of them issue computer generated receipts unless otherwise. This has given rise to a new opportunity. Some companies have come up offering shopping opportunities for a commission to those who are busy and are not in position to do shopping in time. One Supermarket is doing 247 shopping but at times you find it closed so those offering that service are coming up steadily.
This is a massive industry that has boosted so many line businesses in the process. Short Message Services (SMS) are growing by sending alerts for wedding meetings, Some venues that were redundant have now found better use for their redundant space by hiring out space for wedding meetings to take place.
Photography - Some Hotels have even gone an extra mile to develop photographing sites that the newly weds have taken advantage of during the photo shot sessions. Soon they will be charging for this service.
Catering - Others that have benefited from the wedding explosion are those offering catering services bearing in mind that a few years back weddings were a question of having a soda and a few snacks, today it is a buffet arrangement.
Bridal Cars - The most interesting here is the slow displacement of the Mercedes Benz which has for so long been used as a machine for Bridal Cars and now being replaced by Hummers, Jaguars, Limousines and so on.
Two years back there was no such a thing called Mobile Money, now it is a question of either you not wanting to use it or not understanding it at all or not seeing any need for it. Zain, Mpesa, M-Sente, MTN Mobile Money are all here and agents have added it top their existing services and are making an extra buck out of it.
This is no way connected to technological advancement but clearly becoming a money making machine. It was a matter of entertaining a handful of guests who had gathered after paying Shs 3,000. Today even TV stations are signing them up to be included in the program, line ups for their viewing audiences. The original group Theatre Factory has even split giving rise to another group Fun Factory. The latest is Club Silk that has introduced Comedy as part of their menu and the charge is 25,000 per head. Quite amazing bearing in mind that before these were guys entertaining just for laughs.
Small Office Home Office(SOHO) has sprung up as a result of the internet becoming more affordable. For as little as Shs 20,000 per week, One can have access to unlimited internet. With this kind of arrangement, the number of offices at home is on the increase for jobs like Air ticketing, Tour and Travel and Web Design Services among others.
Loan Sales Executives
No doubt this is a new trend as a result of banks becoming more flexible on noticing that other than asking for land titles as collateral, you can now use one's job/salary as security. Loan sale executives are now massively deployed to recruit more customers for the loans. The number of the employed is still very low so the same executives bounce back trying to lure the customers into loan top ups in the process trapping customers into the loan rat race.
It is not surprising that the number of cars coming into the country is increasing every month. This is made possible by the internet. One simply logs onto a website and looks at the available stock and places an order online by sending an email to this company. Payment is made by Telegraphic Transfer(TT) and the car is later shipped to the nearest port to you.
This means that anyone can do this without applying to anyone or being subjected to an interview. Not all websites are genuine though. So there is need to carry out a due diligence and once not sure, please resort to the traditional methods.
Saturday, May 29 2010
Mobile money services are in the country and the numbers of people using them are increasing by the day. MTN Mobile money has registered over 800,000 users in its first year and they project the numbers at over 3m by 2012.
The population of those with bank accounts is just half of those with mobile phones and this is the very reason banks have to seriously look into this aspect. It has already happened in Kenya where M-Pesa and Equity bank have partnered.
Those on M-Pesa can use Equity bank ATM cards and they have even upgraded to converting their M-Pesa accounts to savings account which can earn interest and access insurance services.
One of the reasons Mobile Money is picking up very fast is the issue of airtime. Shop attendants in the rural areas are the Mobile Money agents and these are the places these people are used to going to when buying airtime something they have been doing for years.
They are comfortable dealing with these shop attendants compared to banks with revolving doors and armed guards which they think is meant for the rich.
MTN Mobile Money Ceiling Increased
Pay for your DSTV with ZAP
Uganda Telecom Launches Mobile Money
Buy Airtime with MMM
Tuesday, July 21 2009
The Banking sector is growing and it continues to grow as the central bank is yet to license more commercial banks. Uganda now has over 20 commercial banks in operation
More on Banks in Uganda: Finance
Thursday, June 25 2009
Banks have become very aggressive with marketing loans specifically to salaried employees who are soft targets for the practice. Loans are good per say and a vital tool to boost your investment plans if put to good use.
Banks have partnered with various service providers to make sure you have that dream car you have always desired to have, To have your dream house through mortgages and very lately wedding loans and school fees loans have been introduced among others.
Before the economic melt down, a loan deal could be struck by a phone call on looking at the history of your account but this has slightly changed because a top up of your loan could require you to sign fresh papers before it is approved.
Assuming you have got a loan of 12,000,000/- which should be able to get you a 50*100 decimal piece of land in Mukono plus construction of a two bed roomed house to window level, this will be considered a good spend for this particular loan and within one month of getting that loan, all that should be in place if that was the purpose for the loan.
However here is where very many borrowers get trapped. It is termed as a "Top Up". In the above example if the 12,000,000/- is going to be serviced within a period of 24 months or two years and yet you spent it within two weeks of getting the loan, sooner than later you will notice the recoveries biting.
Within 6 months you may want to go back but the bank will assure you that you need to at least service the loan for a period of one year before you qualify for a top up. After one year you can hardly resist the top up because the gap that was created by this loan has heavily impacted on your operations.
Supposing your loan balance is 6,000,000/- and you want a top up, these bankers will tell you that we have to buy off the old balance which is 6,000,000/- and then give you the difference of 6,000,000/- to make a total of 12,000,000/-. You will continue paying like you got 12,000,000/- yet in actual sense you got 6,000,000/- less processing fees and other charges. In most cases you might even have nothing to put on the house which has been at window level for the last 12 months.
In conclusion loans are good and highly recommended but there is need to work out a plan of getting out of them as opposed to being hooked in debt because the rat race syndrome will come into play. Otherwise the benefits are greater if you service the loan to completion as compared to getting top ups.
Wednesday, June 03 2009
It is not just withdrawing and banking money alone, there is more to it than just basic banking. Barclays bank has Prestige Banking which means more banking hours for those signed up to it and better exchange rates in case of forex or transferring money.
Prestige customers will pay slightly less in terms of charges and attractive rates are accorded to them if one is sending money. The discount might not be much but the mere fact that a discount can be tagged to your transaction is good enough.
With Prestige banking you are supposed to be comfortably seated as opposed to dealing with long queues in other normal banking halls. You can choose to have a cup or tea/coffee and at times chocolate if you so wish as you wait, but research has it that an average prestige client is not walking into the banking hall for tea but instead they are there for convenient banking.
The same discount can be extended to loans in terms of interest rates. As a prestige client, once in need of a loan, the interest rate applied to you is normally lower than the market rate. In line with credit, a credit card can only be given to prestige clients who meet the terms for that purpose. Supposing you are not a prestige client but you have the minimum balances required to get you a credit card, you will still not qualify for it not until you upgrade your status to prestige.
You can still do away with a prestige account at your choice but it can only be compared to the convenience that comes in with you doing everything that matters and then do shopping last at Nakumatt now that it is open 24hours. Prestige centres do not open 24hours but at least they close late and by the time they close, the rest of the banks have closed 2 hours earlier.
The monthly fee for prestige currently stands at 35,000/- monthly which is the same as 420,000/- per year but that is the only charge you pay and transact to the fullest with your account. Mini statements, Statements, ATM Withdraws, can all be done at no extra charge.
Prestige centres are Barclays Rwenzori Courts, Barclays Luwum Street, Barclays Garden City and Barclays Muyenga. If you go to none prestige centres and you are a prestige client, the staff there might accord you the same treatment like any ordinary banker which might leave you offended and yet you have paid a little extra to get exactly that. It is the very reason the Barclays Prestige Card is Maroon and the others are Blue in colour.
Thursday, March 26 2009
Electronic Funds Transfer System is payment method that is now being preferred over cheques and it might be a matter of time before this becomes the mode of settling payments and collections.
This is a system where by money is transferred directly from one account to the other without any paper money changing hands.
Most government agencies in Uganda are currently using this system. If you have offered a service to government of late, you will notice that effecting of your payment is done directly to your bank.
The other payment similar to this one is RTGS (Real Time Gross Settlement) though this one will attract a lot more in terms of bank charges as compared to EFT, but the money gets to your account almost instantly from the time of effecting payment.
Both methods are faster than the traditional cheque which normally takes 4 days clearing time. Assuming there is a weekend or a public holiday in between, then the clearing time will be extended by that period.
This might mark the beginning of paper less money and give rise to increased credit card use in Uganda now that the Point of Sale, Credit Card, ATMs etc are all executed through an electronic terminal.