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MM4H Newsletter: 
The Issue of Interoperability

The Issue of Interoperability

by Abeba Taddese, Program Officer at R4D 

For a health program manager exploring mobile payment solutions to reimburse health vouchers, provide cash incentives to pregnant mothers, or pay health worker salaries, among other potential applications, challenges surrounding the delivery of bulk payments to beneficiaries who belong to different mobile networks, can pose a huge barrier to program implementation and uptake.  Interconnection between payment platforms (also known as platform to platform interoperability) would facilitate payments across networks much the same way that it allows us to send text messages to friends and family on different mobile network carriers.

As countries continue to explore the issue of platform interoperability, organizations and programs are finding different ways to transact with beneficiaries across multiple networks. Some have gone the route of issuing designated SIM cards for receiving payments or requiring beneficiaries to purchase a SIM card for the preferred payment network, which can introduce many operational challenges as described in this blog by Chrissy Martin.

Other programs are turning to innovative third party providers (also referred to as aggregators) for sending and receiving payments to and from multiple network providers, as highlighted in this December 2013 webinar on mobile money interoperability hosted by NetHope. Examples of third party providers include Selcom in Tanzania, and Yo! Payments in Uganda. The webinar also features a presentation from John Snow Inc. (JSI) Tanzania on their decision to use a third party aggregator to facilitate bulk payments to training participants on multiple networks.  

We spoke with Gerald Begumisa, of Yo! Payments to learn more about third party payment solutions for different sectors in Uganda, including health.
Q&A with Gerald Begumisa, Yo Uganda  Limited
Yo Uganda Limited was founded in 2006.  In 2011 Yo Uganda Limited launched a new service called Yo! Payments, with the aim of catalyzing mobile money use in Uganda, and beyond. Yo! Payments enables organizations to securely, conveniently and centrally manage mobile money payments in an interoperable way.
  • What does Yo! Payments do? What services does it offer, and who are your clients? Yo! Payments is a third-party provider that allows companies to integrate mobile money solutions into their systems to better manage and streamline cash transactions. Yo! Payments is an aggregator – we work across several mobile operator networks – so by working with us, our clients can access mobile money technologies offered by various mobile network operators. We help our clients rapidly establish systems to use mobile money (since they don’t have to establish a contract with a MNO) and we facilitate interoperability across mobile money programs. 
  • What does the landscape for mobile money in health look like in Uganda? We’re beginning to see heightened interest and increasing adoption of mobile money in health, but the market remains largely untapped in Uganda. Recently, some hospitals and other health providers began accepting payments via mobile money, and I believe that some insurance companies (life insurance, and possibly health insurance) use mobile payments to collect premiums and to send payments to providers. 
To learn more, read the full feature HERE.

For any questions related to Yo! Payments, email Gerald Begumisa (

Additional Resources

•   PharmAccess's Mobile Health Research Lab in Nairobi, Kenya. Describes some updates and lessons learned by PharmAccess - March 2014
•   Africa’s mobile revolution stands in the balance.Why are different parts of Africa experiencing widely different levels of success with mobile banking, despite years of experience in Kenya? - April 2014 
•  The State of Mobile Money Ecosystem. How does building an ecosystem impact profitability and help create an efficient and affordable way to facilitate payments on a large scale? - April 2014
• Vodafone to roll out M-Pesa services in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala. Vodafone India and ICICI Bank are working towards rolling out a mobile money transfer and payment service in Andhra Pradesh and Kerala  -  April 2014
• BRAC Innovation Fund for Mobile Money. Mobile Money Ideas Wanted! Accepting applications through April 10th!
• Learn about mobile money use in Tanzania by reading this article, this article, and this infographic
• Mobile Persuasion: Can mobile phones and cutting-edge behavioral science improve lives? Published by the USAID Mobile Solutions Team - April 2014
• Agent Network Accelerator Survey. Uganda Country Report, provides insights on country factors for success in agent network management - January 2014

Upcoming Events

•  Digital Finance Plus Event - April 9, 2014. CGAP, IFC and The World Bank host a seminar on digital finance and how innovators use it to tackle development challenges.
•  Mobile Money and Digital Payments- Africa - May 20 - 22, 2014. The 6th annual Mobile Money Africa conference, to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa. 
• Third Global Symposium on Health Systems Research -
Sept 30 - Oct 3, 2014. This year's focus is the science and practice of people-centred health systems, 

Profiling MM4H Use Cases

We are continuing to track and document examples of mobile money in the health sector. The HFG Mobile Money activity has identified 20 MM4H use cases and is building profiles on each program to identify and document emerging trends in mobile money and health and to spotlight programs that are effectively using and scaling up the use of mobile money in health. Contact us to learn more or to share an example by replying to this newsletter. 

About this newsletter

The Health Finance and Governance (HFG) Project’s Mobile Money to Strengthen Health Systems Activity is driving innovative mobile phone-based payment solutions, to expand the reach of health services to poor populations and to improve the efficiency, security, and transparency of financial transactions in the health sector.Designed for public health professionals, this newsletter is intended to highlight how mobile payment services (using mobile phones to transfer or store funds) can improve healthcare delivery. 

Please contact us to share your news about mobile money applications in health or if you would like to contribute to this newsletter.  For more information about the HFG Mobile Money Activity and how it is supporting the uptake of innovative payment solutions in countries, contact Marty Makinen (

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