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Uganda’s Easypay hits 15k users by overcoming interoperability challenges

Ugandan fintech startup Easypay has accumulated 15,000 users and 2,600 merchants on its payments platform, built to overcome challenges caused by the lack of interoperability between services.

Formed in 2016, the self-funded Easypay has launched a digital wallet that allows businesses to accept payments from customers, while users can buy airtime, and pay digital TV subscriptions and utilities bills.

The startup aims to provide one, easy-to-use platform for all types of payment, overcoming the lack of interoperability between mobile money networks. Users can take advantage of it via web, smartphone app or USSD, while it also provides value-adds such as crowdfunding, e-ticketing, bulk payments, QR code retail, and P2P micro loans. For merchants, Easypay offers gateway solutions through its open APIs and plugins, as well as free integration services.

All of this has proven attractive with users, with 15,000 individuals signed up as well as 2,600 merchants across Uganda. Bernard Muhindo, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Easypay, said users were benefiting from lower costs, a better user experience, and the harmonisation of different payment options on one platform.

The startup’s main competitors are mobile money services run by telecoms companies, but Muhundo said other payments solutions in the market were cumbersome to use and did not cover enough types of payments.

“Easypay was conceived and designed with high scalability, integrability, connectivity, and flexibility, making it a platform for the future and a cut above the rest in Uganda,” he said.

The size of the user base, which has so far transacted around $760,000 using the platform, is impressive given it has been achieved without advertising or publicity, for which Easypay does not have the funding.

“The uptake was very positive during the proof of concept and the same is valid today, with transactions growing gradually and organically,” Muhindo said. “But it requires more visibility in the market to grow both in users and transactions. We have devised a strategy that we hope to implement once we have the funds that support the expansion plan.”

Obtaining funding, however, has proven a challenge. Muhindo said Easypay has been looking for two years, without success. He puts this down primarily to the fact its search has taken place within Uganda.

“The mindset and culture for investment is still brick and mortar for people with money who can potentially invest. They do not understand the fintech industry and show a great deal of reservation to invest in a company that has nothing but software. On the side of the banks, they still operate in a highly traditional way where loans must be secured by collaterals. As a startup, Easypay does not have any collateral to secure a loan,” he said.

He also, however, admits that the startup has struggled to properly “sell itself” to potential investors, something it must improve at if it is to secure the funding it needs to grow.

“We need the funds to stabilise our operations and to scale up. The market is ripe, the need is real, and Easypay is the tool to solve prevailing payment problems,” said Muhindo.

Though only operating in Uganda at this point, the startup has received franchise proposals from a host of other countries, including Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Rwanda and Zambia, but also further afield countries such as Cyprus and Georgia. Easypay has global ambitions.

“Easypay, as a platform, was built with the capacity to operate globally with open APIs and inbuilt forex to support multi-currency operations,” Muhindo said. “We have plans to expand, first in Uganda, but later to conquer the African continent. Financial inclusion is an African problem, and we want to contribute in addressing this challenge that affects Africans.”

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