Telecom firms to phase out scratch cards

Telecom companies have unveiled plans to phase out airtime scratch cards as a measure to improve efficiency and customer convenience.

Nathan Kintu, a telecoms retailer in Kamwokya said that telecom companies are now discouraging scratch cards and are promoting the digital airtime through easy-load.

Many shops are now moving from the cards to the easy load option, while customers are being encouraged to use the same through the mobile money platform.

"The scratch cards can be stolen, even for us who are dealers, but if you buy in digital form whether you use it or not, it can still stay safe on your phone. So we are encouraging people to start buying and transacting in mobile money mostly" he said.

Recently, telecom customers raised concern over the extra charge levied by retailers and dealers on airtime. For all networks, customers were being asked to pay between 200 and 500 Shillings more than the price printed on scratch cards.

For instance, the 1000 Shillings airtime card was sold at 1,200.

The retailers blamed telecom companies for the hike. They said that the companies had had drastically reduced the commission percentage on airtime cards, from 5 percent to 2.5 percent making the trade profitless.

Justina Ntabgoba, the MTN corporate affairs said although the overpricing of the scratch cards led to this move, electronic transactions generally are secure.

She said the move also saves the telecom companies a lot of money hitherto used to produce scratch cards.

Ntabgoba said it's in the best interest of both the retailer and the customer to use mobile money and phase out scratch cards.

She said customers who load airtime using MTN Mobile Money or easyload, get an instant 30 percent bonus on the value of the airtime they buy.

Fiona Bugonzi, the public relations officer of Airtel Uganda states that Airtel's major reasons for discouraging scratch cards were a result of the recent overcharge by retailers.

Andrew Otim, a mobile user said the move to phase out recharge cards is a great one as it will protect many consumers.

He said in several cases, recharge cards involve risks just like exposing cash, and yet with digital mobile transactions, you can load airtime at your own time and amount.

 

 

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