Cashless Threats ‘High’ in Uganda

Apr 24, 2024

Police records indicate cybercrime has cost Ugandans over 20 billion shillings (around $5 million) since 2022, with local news saying ‘threats to cashless [payments]… are soaring’ and they are also ‘highly vulnerable to being abused by money launderers.’

Uganda’s Daily Monitor reports I&M Bank Uganda recently announced a ‘digital transformation’ aimed at consolidating cashless transactions on one platform, with Chief Executive Robin Bairstow saying their biggest fear is now identity theft. ‘A cashless world’, as it outlines, is greatly threatened by challenges including fraud, hacking and network and power outages.

Daily Monitor also recently reported on a risk assessment conducted by the Finance Intelligence Authority, which found ‘digital representations of value’ are being widely exploited by fraudsters and money launderers. This backs research from UK-based We Fight Fraud showing ‘cashless payments increasingly drive illegal activities, with the modern criminal preferring socially-distanced bank transfers, online fraud and illicit sales via social media.'

According to the 2024 Global Payments Report, cash remains the leading payment method across Africa, and while the introduction of cashless payments is introducing new options and possibilities for transacting, they are also bringing new opportunities for crime and new barriers between people and their money.

The answer is simple: give people choice. Ensure cash is always available so that even those who prefer to transact cashlessly can fall back on physical money on occasions when digital payments are unavailable, either due to fintech or network failures, or personal issues such as forgotten passwords or a compromised account. Uganda—and all of Africa—can combine the benefits of physical and digital money to ensure a resilient economy, freedom of choice, and competition in the payments landscape.

Last Updated: Apr 24, 2024