What Know-Your-Customer Regulations Apply in Uganda

  • September 14, 2017

  • Kampala, UGANDA

By Richard Ndahiro, DFS Expert in Uganda

For more information, please contact
Naomi de Groot
KM Consultant, Uganda


In the past couple of years Uganda witnessed a steady increase in financial inclusion, mainly driven by an increased uptake in mobile money. Financial inclusion insights Uganda (2016) shows that close to 4 in every 10 Ugandan adults (39%) now have access to financial services. 35% have a mobile money account, 11% have a full-service bank account, while 6% have an account in a non-bank financial institution.

Financial inclusion, and exclusion on the flipside, is primarily a matter of access. Particularly for digital financial services (DFS), access is dependent on the ability of users such as consumers, traders, merchants, agents and aggregators, to be fully registered and compliant with the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) requirements by regulators.

Talk to anyone working in DFS in Uganda and they will bring up the topic of KYC. These discussions mainly reveal:

  • A need for more clarity around the KYC requirements for the various DFS types of users
  • Discrepancies in interpretation of requirements in the KYC regime
  • Challenges around registration and onboarding of, for example, agents, merchants and refugees due to strict KYC requirements. This results in excluding people from using DFS as well as lengthy onboarding processes, with a lot of paperwork for those registering.

To fully understand all these issues UNCDF–MM4P researched all specific KYC requirements for DFS players in Uganda. The exercise sought to:

  • Clarify the KYC requirements for opening and operating DFS accounts, including accounts for individuals, informal merchants and traders, formal businesses, and non-citizens such as refugees;
  • Understand how financial service providers are interpreting and implementing KYC requirements;
  • Assess the impact of the interpretation and implementation of KYC requirements on DFS adoption; and
  • Offer recommendations for addressing KYC challenges to foster DFS growth and uptake.

The results of this research are full of findings and insights for regulators, banks, mobile network operators and other financial service providers that operate DFS in Uganda. Please have a look at the summary or the entire study report.

In accordance with these findings, UNCDF-MM4P is engaging with the various stakeholders in a bid to address some of the issues highlighted from the report.