Transforming The Financial Landscape – Mtn Open Api Challenge

Transforming The Financial Landscape – Mtn Open Api Challenge

One of the greatest revolutions that has happened in our country is that of digital payments. MTN Mobile Money a digital payments platform has been the torchbearer in this revolution, what started as a tool meant to simply retain subscribers of the telecom company while serving as a money transfer service, became a payment solution, savings option and a credit provider. With this cashless digital revolution promoting financial inclusion for people who were previously excluded by bringing services to the tip of their fingers, it prompted re-imagining financial services in all other sectors of the economy.

In a generous move, MTN decided to open its API to the public and invite developers to innovate for other sectors of the economy using their platforms. This way brilliant Innovations would have a chance to provide solutions without being crushed by the costs of building a new API and maintaining it.

1064 applicants from across Africa applied, even though the number reduced when the eligibility criteria excluded those outside Uganda. 64 teams were created, further selection criteria enabled 22 to pitch and 9 teams emerged at the top and were chosen for the accelerator program

So in 2018, we partnered with MTN to run the MTN Open API challenge on “Digital Payments” in the following categories;

Transport: Enabling delivery or use of local services in the transport sector.

HORECA: Enabling service delivery/consumption in Hotels, Restaurants, Bars, and Cafes.

Distribution in FMCG: Powering payments made within a selected fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) value chain.

At the end of the challenge, the Apps that demonstrated the best potential according to the judges were awarded as follows;


Category Best App 1st Runner Up 2nd Runner Up
Transport UGX 10 Million UGX 7 Million UGX 5 Million
HORECA UGX 10 Million UGX 7 Million UGX 5 Million
FMCG Distribution Chain UGX 10 Million UGX 7 Million UGX 5 Million



In March 2019, the challenge culminated into a Demo Day with the following companies emerging winners across the categories;

Category Best App 1st Runner Up 2nd Runner Up
Transport Easy Matatu Endobo Yo Waste
HORECA Minute 5 Powell Pay Engineering Connections
FMCG Distribution Chain App About Epay Sowani



In July 2019, the top teams were put through a rigorous accelerator program a Startup Program to support early-stage startups into growth as they journey to become successful startups. The MTN Startup Program is a zero Equity Program meaning that beneficiaries will not be expected to give MTN equity in return.


At the end of this, the Beneficiaries of this program will receive;

  • Pre-Seed Funding: At the end of an innovation challenge, beneficiary Apps will be those that demonstrate the best potential as per the specific initiative’s judging criteria. Beneficiaries will be selected by a panel of judges.
  • Performance-based funding: After Go-live via MTN Mobile Money integration, beneficiary Apps for performance-based funding will be selected by MTN based on:
  • The selected set of KPI, including a weighted performance of Number of users, Number of transactions and the total value of transactions.
  • A presentation relevant to the business development process, e.g., Value proposition, commercial plan, B-case over 5 years.
  • Beneficiaries will receive funding as one of the following: Seed Funding, Commercial Plan funding, Co-branded collaboration.

The beneficiaries will also be able to cobrand with MTN and so receive more visibility, that will prompt their service to be widely adopted and cause the change they set out to create in the financial sector.