MAP International: Technology provider for branchless banking in Uganda

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Publication Date: 
01 November 2010
Author: 
Eria Hisali
UN Millennium Development Goal: 
Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Related group: 

MAP International is a New York-based financial services provider with local headquarters in Kampala, Uganda. It was established in Uganda in 2007. MAP International seeks to improve access to financial services to the under-banked population. The motivation to increase access to financial services was based on MAP’s appreciation of the life-changing impact that giving financial access to the unbanked and under-banked can have, including: economic empowerment, employment generation and enterprise creation thereby addressing one of the root causes of poverty. At the same time though, access to financial services for most of the population had been severely constrained owing to lack of bankable identification to enable them access formal financial services and as well as the enormous set up and infrastructure costs required to extend services to the country side where the majority of the population lives.

MAP International provides central bank approved biometric identification and a massmarket virtual financial service that links consumers, merchants, banks, and service providers. This has enabled them to build a leapfrog solution that has the potential to be scaled quickly in order to expand access to financial services.

MAP works in partnership with government and other private sector entities. Following its inception in 2007, MAP International has expanded its customer base and has issued over 100,000 debit cards. There are also 26 ATMs at different locations in the country as well as over 150 point of sale terminals. The holistic and comprehensive nature of the MAP system gives customers the flexibility of using a range of different access points, whether ATM, mobile or via a PC. The MAP revolution has resulted in a number of benefits for both government, customers, banks and financial institutions, mobile phone operators and merchants. Among the most pertinent ones have been to increase efficiency with which transactions are undertaken, expansion of financial services to the previously under-banked population and institutionalization of bankable identities across the population.

The major challenges remain the high cost of doing business emanating from the high cost of utilities (electricity, water, and telecommunications) and the poor state of physical infrastructure (such as road networks), an unfavorable tax regime as well as the somewhat slow adaptation by the population to the new payment and transaction system. MAP recently signed a partnership agreement with Uganda Telecomm and it is expected that this will enable it expand its business across the East African region.

Citation: Hisali, Eria. "MAP International." GIM Case Study No. B075. New York: United Nations Development Programme, 2010