The Minister for Information and ICT, Frank Tumwebaze has said that all unused airtime scratch cards will automatically be converted into mobile money.
Telecom companies recently announced that scratch cards would cease being used by the end of July 2018.
Tumwebaze told parliament that telecom companies have gradually phased out the distribution of scratch cards and majority of their users are already using e- top up.
He added airtime vendors will now be required to return the scratch cards so they can be turned into mobile money.
“They are also working out mechanisms to redeem any scratch cards that will still be in the hands of customers by 31st July 2018,”Tumwebaze told parliament on Tuesday.
“Mobile operators have already put in place systems to facilitate conversion of any unutilized scratch cards into mobile money. Through this system, no customer will lose money. They will be refunded for any unutilized air time cards.”
Defends ban on scratch cards
Legislators put the minister to task to explain the ban on scratch cards in favour of electronic airtime.
“I took time to do research from telecom companies, they are doing a comparison of converting serialized scratch cards into easy load. They say this will be costly and will take a long time,” Padyere county MP Joshua Anywarach told the august House before asking the minister to explain the genesis of the ban on scratch cards.
In response, the ICT minister said the decision to ban scratch cards was taken by cabinet in March as one of the ways to improve security and also reduce sell of fake scratch cards in the country.
“The use of electronic recharge systems will protect the public against purchase of fake air time scratch cards intended to defraud unsuspecting members of the public,” Tumwebaze told parliament.
“Security agencies have in the past arrested a number of people defrauding members of the public through sale of fake air time scratch cards. I believe that using the e-recharge system, this problem will be completely eliminated.”
He explained that with the electronic airtime in place, it would make it easy to trace criminals in case of any crimes committed which according to Tumwebaze was not the case with scratch cards.
The minister also noted that the electronic airtime system will help reduce on wastes from used scratch cards dumped by users.
“This system will reduce e-waste caused by the many scratch cards that are thrown into the environment,” he said.
“It will improve revenue assurance by Government, since with the electronic system, URA can determine the amount of Airtime sold by Telecom operators and agents and thus rule out any tax under declarations.”
Tumwebaze told parliament that before the new system was activated, telecom companies engaged with agents and customers about the usage of electronic airtime.
“Telecom companies are working with their agents and distributors across the country to ensure that there is seamless transition from the old system to the new system.”