Umeme, an energy distribution network company in Uganda, recently launched bill payments by Mobile Money together with real-time bank reconciliations. This means that customers will be able to avoid disconnections caused by delayed payment reconciliations.
The instant payment solution launched under the banner 'Touchpay Solutions', was unveiled by minister of Information and Communication Technology, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda at the launch event.
The mobile money payments will be made through both MTN Uganda and Airtel Uganda, as well as nine partner banks, namely Bank of Africa, Barclays Bank, Centenary Bank, Citibank, Crane Bank, DFCU Bank, Post Bank, Stanbic Bank and Standard Chartered Bank.
Rugunda said Touchpay Solutions was a result of a partnership that would improve service delivery to a wide range of customers.
"I am extremely please that a utility company that is at the core of our economic development has reached out to other companies driving our economy to find common ground for common good. These partnerships have to be celebrated," he said.
"Think for a moment about customers in Rakai who had to travel to Masaka to pay their bills. Today I am proud to inform them and people across the country that inconvenience is now history," Rugunda added.
Umeme managing director, Charles Chapman said Touchpay Solutions was designed specifically to ease the customer experience with Umeme, and would encourage more customers to connect to the national grid.
"Our focus on customer service did not stop with the decentralisation of customer service centres. Making bill payment easier and reconciliations instant is a key element of good customer service," Chapman said.
"In the past, if you made your bill payment in the bank it took a couple of days for that payment to be reconciled with Umeme accounts. If you were unlucky and timed your payment late, there was always a possibility that you could get disconnected for non-payment during those two days. With Touchpay Solutions, that will not happen at all, and we believe there will be very many happy customers out there from this moment on," Chapman added.
Umeme chief financial officer, Selestino Babungi explained that Touchpay Solutions would involve payments at banks both over-the-counter and through ATMs, and payments by internet and phone banking.
"This means customers can pay bills at any hour of the day or night and avoid disconnection. Our focus is increasing customer convenience in all ways possible," Babungi said.