The communications regulator has announced that with effect from July 31, airtime scratch cards will no longer be sold, leaving consumers with only one option of topping up airtime, eRecharge.
The development is not new, honestly, since mobile money has existed for about eight years now, and people have been using it top up airtime on their phone. With the invention of mobile banking, it was even made much better. Banks and telecom companies have rolled out apps among other online services for those who don’t want to use the USSD, or, Unstructured Supplementary Service Data option.
Most of the services developed by telecom companies, however, only allow you to buy airtime for yourself or for a person connected to the same network. But as technology evolves, developers have come up with applications that allow you to purchase airtime from a mobile money account of, say, MTN to any other network. Some even allow you to buy airtime for your friends staying abroad.
Below we look at the some of the other common services you can use to purchase airtime in Uganda.
International Airtime Top Up
The service allows you to top up your mobile phone using their website, mobile money, bank ATMs (interswitch) and Points of Sale. Using this platform, you can also send airtime to any network in East Africa and over 100 other countries across the globe.
The company offers cross-border airtime transfers and it is currently partnering with over 250 mobile network operators, with over 80 destination currencies supported through their gateway. In Uganda, when you want to use mobile money to send airtime to any network within or outside the country, just dial *210*10#. The code works on both Airtel and MTN. The company told this website that the Africell Money option will also be added soon.
Pebuu Africa is an application that supports a wide range of payment channels and options that can help you handle payments and manage cash flow.
Apart from using it to top up airtime, you can also use the app to load data with selected ISPs, subscribe for PayTV, pay utilities, school fees, and bank deposits among others.
Aside from the online services, Pebuu also has cards, vending agents, and POS terminals. Pebuu facilitates transactions across Africa. It was unveiled in Uganda in 2016. You can fill up your Pebuu wallet using mobile money.
NewPay was unveiled in Kampala in 2017. It is currently working with MTN, Airtel, and Roke Telecom for mobile payment solutions. The company is headquartered in Russia. With NewPay, you can buy airtime, internet bundles, pay for utilities and PayTV. They have over 20 payment terminals within Kampala and the instructions for using the machines are on the website. Airtime purchases are only via POS’s.
Developed by Cellulant Corporation, the app allows you to pay bills and purchase airtime among other cashless and convenient payment solutions. Mula works across Africa. Mula has partnerships with different government organs and telecoms to enable you to pay taxes and other services.
Having been in the market for almost a decade, Cellulant has acquired 37 banks with combined 12 million bank accounts, 61 merchants directly, and approximately 1 million customers active, month on month.
They have also connected directly to 16 mobile network operators with a total of 85 million mobile wallets. It works with MTN, Africell, and Airtel. Their system is directly synced with mobile money so you don’t need a special wallet like for Pebuu.
Incorporated in Uganda in June 2012, Ezeemoney is a multi-national company offering electronic money services. Apart from facilitating airtime purchases, EzeeMoney offers bill payment options, points of sale, money transfers and other e-money services to banks, non-bank corporations, government, and NGOs.
EzeeMoney works with all telecom operators in Uganda and different government agencies.
Payway is one of the biggest ePayment options, with payment points even upcountry. They offer web-based payment options and manual services. They have partnerships with all telecom companies and different government agencies to allow their users to conduct transactions. The only mobile application available is for retailers.
PayLeo is a brand owned by True African, the Leading provider of Financial Technology in the East African Region. PayLeo allows transactions via USSD and website and it has partnered with Safaricom, Mastercard, Airtel, MTN, Barclays Bank and Visa to facilitate payments. They have no application for Ugandans.
Poketi enables MTN customers to buy Airtel airtime using their MTN mobile money accounts. Africell customers can send money directly to any registered mobile money account on any other network. The servive is USSD based.
With Xente app, you can buy airtime and data bundles both online and mobile, pay all your bills, book tickets for events and make a purchase at your neighborhood shop.
The app also allows payments with Visa and Mastercard apart from mobile money, which you use to fill your Xente wallet.
XMM (X Mobile Money) is a mobile App developed by Dei Technologies that helps to bridge the mobile money gap between different networks joined the Ugandan market in June 2017. It has a wallet, which is filled by withdrawing money from your mobile money account and then you can buy airtime for you and others across networks, pay bills, data, etc. They are connected to all networks.
This app enables you to deposit money only through Airtel money. The money is converted to Dala currency which one can send to other Wala app users, withdraw it, or pay goods and services such as airtime with it.
To download Wala app click here.
ChapChap was recently upgraded to add new features. Although the app offers a customer profile option which would enable one to purchase without going to the merchant, the service requires one to have a sponsor number which makes signing up a bit challenging. The team from Chap Chap, however, told this site that the issue is being looked into and adjustments for this will be made.
One Global (OG) money
OG money offers various payments options, including Interswitch, Flexipay, Visa/Mastercard through which you can you to buy airtime and other pay for other services.
To get OG money click here.
There is also YoDime, Easypay, and MicroPay but we were not able to use their apps. Airtime loader, which was initially developed in loading scratch airtime, say they are also rolling out more developments soon.
As you might notice, the apps are very many, and they offer wide-ranging services and the charges are different. So, as a user, it would be better you try all of them and see what works best for you. You also need to know they come in different sizes (in case your phone storage space is small.)