Centenary Bank, Uganda’s largest commercial microfinance bank, has issued close to one million Visa cards to its customers in an effort to promote cashless payments, according to Fabian Kasi, the Managing Director.
This number of cards issued by the bank accounts for up to 50% of the total cards issued by the entire banking industry in Uganda. Centenary Bank serves over 1.8 million customers, which is a quarter of the total banking population in Uganda.
While addressing the public during the “Visa Live Show” engagement, Kasi said that, “The growth in Visa card users is a good indicator for the journey of moving from using cash to cashless, an agenda being pushed by Visa,” adding that;
“The Visa card comes with a number of advantages which include; the convenience of paying for goods and services online or at locations where Visa is accepted globally, and the safety of your money from potential fraudsters due to the embedded chip and pin technology.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, using Visa cards reduces the risk that comes with handling physical cash, a potential carrier of the virus,” he observed, saying that;
“We are facing a global pandemic and therefore, minimizing contact with physical cash or surfaces greatly reduces the risk of contracting the novel corona virus, hence boosting the public’s safety,” Mr. Kasi further noted in his address.
He added that cashless transactions powered by CenteVisa, the bank’s Visa debit card now account for about 20% of the bank’s transactions, and the number is steadily growing.
According to the 2020 Quarterly Financial Stability Review by Bank of Uganda, a report that assesses the performance of the economy, the value of payments made using debit cards increased from UGX 670.3 billion in 2019 to approximately UGX 3.2 trillion in 2020.
What spurred this recent increase in usage?
The exponential growth was partly driven by actions taken by financial institutions to promote the usage of cashless transactions as a measure to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission to customers and the public.
In order to promote digital financial transactions, last year, Bank of Uganda, sent out communication prohibiting merchants from levying surcharges on customers for using debit cards to make payments.
Addressing the concern of security during the live show, Ms. Salma Ingabire, the Country Director, Visa Uganda, mentioned that, “Our customers are at the very first line of defense with their Visa cards, we have systems that are updated often to protect your information and money.”
“I also encourage you to protect your card just like you would protect money at hand.
Ensure to secure your PIN and in case of suspected unknown activity, reach out to your bank for support using the contacts at the back of the card and request for action to be taken immediately,” Ingabire stressed.
She further remarked that, “Visa is committed to delivering secure, convenient, and trusted payment systems to everyone and is leading the growth of electronic payments worldwide.”
Visa cards are used to carry out an array of transactions like; payment of utilities such as water, electricity and school fees, among others.
The card can also be used at ATM’s for withdrawal and deposits, and at merchants like; fuel stations, restaurants, hotels, pharmacies, or hospitals as well as for paying for goods at supermarkets and online shopping among others.
Visa Uganda recently launched the “Sasuza Visa” campaign to encourage the public to transact using the Visa cards at no extra fee.