Scale2Save brings Ugandan financial stakeholders to commit to financial inclusion

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Micro savings, maximum impact.

KAMPALA, 28 April 2022 – Key stakeholders of the Ugandan financial ecosystem came together during a Scale2Save knowledge sharing event, which concluded with a joint call to action with concrete steps to boost financial inclusion in the country.

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The signatories of this call to action, and initiative of the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI) and its programme for financial inclusion, Scale2Save, are: the Uganda Bankers Association (UBA), Financial Sector Deepening Uganda (FSDU), The Association of Microfinance Institutions of Uganda (AMFIU), The Financial Technologies Service Providers Association (FITSPA), and the Mastercard Foundation.

“We are ready to work with all stakeholders to demonstrate the commitment of the industry, particularly in times of shocks. We are also ready to continue making contributions to the empowerment of low-income customers to seize economic opportunities, build resilience and, ultimately, have a better life”, state the signatories of the document.

This commitment was announced at the end of a 2-day Scale2Save event in Kampala entitled ‘Building resilience and economic empowerment for women and youth’ which brought together some 100 participants. Both the event and the call to action focused on the key drivers of financial inclusion such as customer-centricity, the potential of digital finance and sustainable business models.

Michael Atingi-Ego, Bank of Uganda’s Deputy Governor, described the current state of high financial exclusion of women and youth in the country during his keynote speech at the event.

“When you consider these observations about our lived reality, you start to see the imbalance that Scale2Save is attempting to address here today. This extent of financial exclusion of women and the youth tantamount to trying to balance a three-legged stool on one leg. This is unsustainable in a country that is working towards socio-economic transformation”, he said.

“I am pleased to participate in this event because the Bank of Uganda shares the objective of democratising access to and empowering the users of financial services, not least by championing the National Financial Inclusion Strategy, and through our strategic plan and operations. But like the multilegged stool, it will take the contribution of all stakeholders and partners to bring about universal financial inclusion,” added Mr Atingi-Ego.

Scale2Save is a six-year programme working six African countries including Uganda, where it partners with Centenary Bank, FINCA Uganda and BRAC Uganda Bank. Weselina Angelow is Scale2Save Programme Director. During the event, she presented some of the key lessons learned during the last years implementing financial inclusion initiatives in Uganda.

Download our learning paper on Digital Financial Inclusion in Nigeria and Uganda: opportunities and remaining challenges



Scale2Save champions inclusive financial services for Nigerians

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

LAGOS, 30 March 2022 – The World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI)’s programme for financial inclusion, Scale2Save, has reiterated the importance of inclusive financial services for Nigerian women, youths and farmers as a way to fuel the country’s economic recovery and growth. This was stated at the Scale2Save financial inclusion knowledge sharing event attended by key financial stakeholders across the country.

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Scale2Save is a six-year programme of the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation aimed at establishing the viability of low-balanced savings accounts and to unravel the extent to which savings help vulnerable people in the society to boost their financial wellbeing.

In her keynote address, the Scale2Save Programme Director, Weselina Angelow, highlighted the importance of stakeholders’ knowledge sharing events such as this towards Nigeria’s quest for inclusive growth and economic development. According to her, “As we intensify efforts to improve financial inclusion, it is important that all stakeholders are a part of knowledge and insight-based discourse as this to improve on their processes and make informed financial inclusion decisions.”

Reiterating the commitment of Scale2Save and how the programme is impacting its members as well as other stakeholders, Angelow stated that the programme’s mission is to support financial inclusion initiatives to help millions of Nigerian youths, women and farmers.

“We focus on adding value to all stakeholders along the service value chain by empowering our financial service provider partners to become savings-driven, customer-centric institutions,” she said.

The Mastercard Foundation’s Access to Finance Lead, Mercy Mutua, stressed that financial inclusion is an enabler to help African youth find a way out of poverty.

We acknowledge that a lot has been accomplished but there is a long way to go to address barriers, especially for young rural women. It is Important to tailor solutions relevant to context and customer-centric,” she said in a virtual keynote speech.

Commenting on the need to deepen financial inclusion in Nigeria, the Head of Financial Inclusion Secretariat, Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Paul Ihuoma Oluikpe, stated that financial service providers must target specific customer needs with financial inclusion products.

“There are several products in our financial services space that are too generic. These products are not targeting any value proposition, and are not sufficiently differentiated at the customer level. While there are generic products that appeal to the larger audience, there is the need to drill down at the customer level to target different nuances that exist in the society,” Dr. Oluikpe said.

The WSBI’s 2019 financial service provider survey reveals that attitudes to financial inclusion and low-value savings among financial service providers in Nigeria and other key markets in Africa are being significantly transformed as they have intensified their focus on customers, targeting different groups with tailored accounts and savings products.

Despite the significant progress recorded so far, stakeholders believe that there is still a long way to go to attain a satisfactory level of financial inclusion. Confirming this, the Group Head of Financial Inclusion, FCMB, Adetunji Lamidi, said, “Financial illiteracy is a major barrier to financial inclusion. What we see is a situation where a lot of Nigerians still have this overdependence on the informal financial sector. It takes a long trust-building process to switch them from the informal sector they are familiar with into the formal sector. This is why most of the financial service providers have adopted agency banking where people within the neighbourhood are used as bank representatives. This helps to build confidence, trust and convenience into our financial inclusion strategy.”

Through the intervention of Scale2Save, Financial Service Provider (FPIs) partners continue to innovate products and services that are driving up inclusion among the key target groups. Scale2Save continues to drive the message of financial inclusion while engaging with key stakeholders in target countries that can help actualise the inclusion objective.

Download our learning paper on Digital Financial Inclusion in Nigeria and Uganda: opportunities and remaining challenges



WSBI member and Scale2Save partner Centenary Bank launches paperless account opening technology

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

WSBI member and Scale2Save partner Centenary Bank launches paperless account opening technology.
Digital-based CenteXpress savings account extends financial services to millions of unbanked Ugandans through social networks to increase financial inclusion.

Scale2Save project update in Uganda

​​​​​​​​​​​WSBI member and Scale2Save partner Centenary Bank launches paperless account opening technology.

Digital-based CenteXpress savings account extends financial services to millions of unbanked Ugandans through social networks to increase financial inclusion.

BRUSSELS, 23 June 2020 – Scale2Save project partner Centenary Bank, the largest Commercial Microfinance Bank in Uganda, launched recently a paperless bank account opening service – dubbed CenteXpress – intended to serve the unbanked Ugandan population during Covid​-19 and beyond.

Launched at the head office in Kampala, CenteXpress comes as Uganda faces the Covid-19 pandemic. Deploying and using appropriate solutions like a CenteXpress account puts people in the right direction to propel personal savings and business continuity. The CenteXpress account will build on initiatives already in place by the bank to extend financial services to people at all levels.

Commenting on the launch, Centenary Bank, Managing Director Fabian Kasi said, “It comes at a time when all sectors of the economy including banking and financial services are undergoing a new wave of change, which has warranted further investment in digitally driven solutions to our current gaps and challenges as a country.”

“According to the 2018 Financial Sector Deepening Uganda report on Banking the number of Ugandans without bank accounts or some form of structured and legal financial services currently stands at 89% or 16.5 million of the 18.6 million adult population of Uganda, an indication that there’s need to continuously develop banking services that meet customer’s needs across all age groups.”

How it works: Providing a digital account…instantly

The rising demand for the banking industry to adopt solutions that offer suitable banking experiences anytime and anywhere has inspired the integration of technology to respond with appropriate solutions. Centenary Bank does this through CenteXpress by issuing an instant bank account opened for people by any one of its customers. The offer aims to extend banking services to a customer’s family, friends, relatives, colleagues, and acquaintances, among others that are unbanked and yet need to use banking services. Again, it gives an opportunity to employ people to open accounts for others while earning a commission on each account.

Beatrice Lugalambi, General Manager Corporate Communications and Marketing, said: “A potential customer does not need to visit a bank branch to get a CenteXpress account opened for them, because any existing customer can open the account for anyone in short simple steps and in less than five minutes. No paper work is required during the account opening process for CenteXpress.”  This mobile savings account is intended to build the momentum of savings among our people especially now that Covid-19 has challenged us with the need to survive such challenges.

“For the existing customer to open a CenteXpress for another person, all they need to do is confirm that the person’s phone number is registered. The digital link then uses the CenteMobile App to capture all the necessary new customer information on the digital form provided, takes a photo of their National ID, then enters the phone number and address of the new customer. The Digital Link then deposits the minimum opening balance of Ushs.3,000 on the new account while the bank system credits the Digital Link’s account with Ushs.2,000 as commission for opening the account. The new client will receive SMS notifications with new pin and account details to confirm completion of the process and activation of the account.”

The account presents access to numerous benefits and banking services including, 24/7 access to one’s account using CenteMobile, Free balance inquiry, Withdrawals of up to 2 million shilling per day from all the bank’s digitally driven channels including CenteMobile, CenteAgent and the account is purely phone based.

Scale2Save and Centenary Bank

WSBI and Centenary Bank signed in late 2019 a memorandum of understanding for a new Scale2Save project to help small-scale savings work in Uganda. Signed during a ceremony on 18 October in Washington, D.C., the memorandum outlined two projects, on being CenteXpress, introduces financial incentives for existing customers to on-board new ones into the no-frills account. The project taps into and measures the influence and impact made by friends and family to boost uptake and active use of banks and their services within the retail and mass market. A related project also contained in the memorandum was to introduce and test a ‘No-Frills’ basic mobile-phone-operated savings account specifically designed for the low-income people. Centenary looks to launch and test the offer via CenteMobile – the bank’s digital channel.

Centenary Bank Managing Director Fabian Kasi said at the time of the memorandum signing that: “The mobile account will be scaled up to 187,500 customers by its Cente banking agent network, sales representatives and staff during the pilot phase.”

The no-frills account pilot aims in the medium- to long-term to establish a “gateway-to-banking” product for low-income Ugandans. People who start with the account, set for a pilot phase in Central and Western regions of the country, can graduate to a regular savings account. From there, they can eventually gain access to the full suite of banking products, including credit. The project is especially important for rural communities to flourish.

Commenting at the time on the initiative and support from WSBI under the Scale2Save programme, MoU signatory and WSBI Managing Director Chris De Noose added: “Centenary Bank is taking an innovative, multi-pronged approach to address the need for viable small-scale savings. They also look to test shared agency infrastructure with Finca Uganda, another Scale2Save partner.”

About Centenary Bank

Centenary Bank is Uganda’s leading commercial microfinance bank, serving more than 1.8 million consumers, a quarter of the country’s total banking population. It also has a growing network of 186 ATMs, 74 branches, and over 400 Cente Agents across the country. Centenary Bank started in 1985 with two main purposes: serve the rural poor and make a meaningful contribution to the socio-economic development of Uganda. In 1993, it transitioned to Centenary Rural Development Bank Limited and licensed as a full-service commercial bank. The bank aims to be Uganda’s best provider of financial services, especially microfinance. Centenary Bank began in 1983 as a credit trust of the Uganda National Lay Apostolate. Its mission is “To provide appropriate financial services, especially microfinance to all people, in a sustainable manner and in accordance with the law.”​