Credit cards, Debit cards, Paypal and online accounts. These are becoming an essential part of life. Having access to one’s account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in any part of the world. Do you have that kind of access to your account or money?
A few days ago, I was meant to travel and I missed my flight. [Who does that?] Well, KLM is quite strict, so no one would pay attention to my pleas, But I later go my flight re-routed. That came with a penalty heavy on the pocket obviously. Anyhow I realized first hand how important it was to have a credit card or visa card or debit card.
I have a friend that has a huge phobia for carrying money. They own a wallet, but I hardly ever find them in the same place as their wallet. They just do not get along. So usually, this person has no idea where there money is. Or rather they forget quite easily where their money is. That is quite strange, No? They always lament about how they hate to carry money around and my answer always is: Get a card that is linked to your bank account.
HOWEVER: that in Uganda is something that is not about to happen…
Last year, a friend had a friend come over to Kampala. As sometimes is the case: he lost his luggage on the plane or rather he made it to his destination before his luggage could. He had a very important meeting so he needed a suit. He went to a Shop at Oasis Mall in Kampala and bought a suit complete with shoes and other accessories. All cost him at total of 3,000 USD. He asked to pay a with his credit card but alas this shop had no such arrangement. So how do you operate a business that charges that amount of money for its services and not have a card payment plan for it? I wonder. Anyone that has lived in Kampala knows that it is not wise to carry around a lot of money. Many banks have a limit of money for withdrawal day. Majority of banks in Uganda have the 700,000/= ceiling per day. [From what I have heard.]
Another friend of mine went to get new lenses while visiting in Uganda because it is very cheap to have it done here than in Europe. She went to Med Optics. They cost over 1,000,000/= And they asked for cash but she did not have that kind of cash on her. She bluntly told them; “My bank does not allow me access that kind of money by ATM at all. I have a certain amount that I can withdraw in a day :” IN the end, she paid up in installments, though I do not think that she should have gone through all of that trouble. And they are lucky that she was faithful because she came back to pay.
In this day and age: Credit and Debit cards are quite a necessity. I am not a fan of Credit cards because I believe in spending what I have. So I am all for Debit cards. Not because I want to look fly and all , but I am not a fan of carrying money around. I would rather I carried a card around and paid for my food and groceries with ease. But I realize that the culture in Uganda has not taken on. Such cards are for mainly dollar accounts. And one has to pay quite some money for a transaction. I do not understand why though. Or is it that Banks do not want to risk that much?
Mobile Money in East Africa is steadily growing. It has become one of those options that are encouraged. And here you can access money through and by your phone as long as you can get to a Mobile Money joint that can accept to get the transaction done. The idea is to have Hotels, Restaurants, Hospitals, Courier Companies all adapt to this Mobile Money bug and have sim-cards registered to their names. In Uganda: Water, Electricity and DSTV bills can be paid through Mobile Money. In Kenya, even Rent can be paid through the local Mobile money transactions. That way: we all do not have to carry around money to make our payments. However as we adapt to the local bug of Mobile Money: it is important especially for the ‘elite’ businesses to save us the ‘elite’ from carrying money around. Anyone agree with me?