Home Business BOU, Telecom companies tip Ugandans on accessing deceased people’s mobile money accounts

BOU, Telecom companies tip Ugandans on accessing deceased people’s mobile money accounts

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Giant telecom companies on Thursday advised individuals or families seeking to access funds on mobile money accounts (e-money accounts) of their deceased relatives who might have died without revealing to them their account details like the Personal Identification Number (PIN) among others, to first get administrative powers before applying for the funds.

The senior manager of communications and stakeholder management officer at MTN Uganda Ms Rhona Arinaitwe and the Public Relations Manager, Airtel Uganda at Airtel Uganda Mr David Birungi unanimously said people should start taking mobile money accounts as one of the deceased people’s properties.

This said whoever is planning to access the mobile money accounts of the deceased should therefore follow the necessary steps used while acquiring the deceased’s property including becoming the estates administrator after getting letters of administration which are only issued by the court, regardless of the amount on the deceased’s account.

“Mobile money of someone is handled like any other property and that is why it has to be accessed by the next of keen. This person has to go under all necessary steps as required by law to acquire these properties by applying for letters of administration that are granted by Court and then proceed,” Ms Arinaitwe said before her Airtel Uganda counterpart supplemented that,

“All mechanisms put in place must be followed because for us we are following what the law says. Yes, there might be cases where money on some deceased people’s accounts is small but we are following the law, and until the law is changed, we are going with it,”

The duo’s revelation followed the September 6 directive by the Bank of Uganda (BoU) which asked them to send all funds to dormant e-money accounts of both the deceased and people alive, which will spend nine months without having any transaction carried out.

BoU in the same statement said that the management of mobile money accounts of deceased persons can only be done by the estate administrator(s) of the deceased person who derive their powers from the court as per succession laws.

“Under the laws of succession in Uganda, the management of mobile money accounts of deceased persons would be done by the estate administrator(s) of the deceased person. The appointment of the administrator(s) is by Court and therefore the mobile money issuer would be required to only deal with duly appointed administrators,” the statement adds.

According to BoU, the legal representatives will access the access refund of funds of the deceased persons; directly from the electronic money issuer if the mobile money account is still active, from BoU through the respective electronic money issuer within seven years if the account was dormant and the funds transferred to it and from government after the seven years above with the necessary verifications by the telecom companies and a request made to the central bank.

Mr Birungi said that people should always write Wills so that they guide on the disposal of their property in case they die.

“A mobile money account is part of someone’s property and to access it one should follow the required steps,” he emphasized.

The BoU which was making further clarifications regarding dormant mobile money accounts, said it is acting its powers derived from the National Payment Systems Act, 2020, which mandates it to regulate Payment Service Providers including Electronic Money Issuers.

Prior to the closure of the dormant account, the electronic money Issuers where telecom companies fall will notify the affected client at least one month before the expiry of the nine months.

These will tell the client that inform that the electronic money account shall be suspended unless there is a transaction on the account.

They shall then block the electronic money account and shall not permit further transactions until the account is reactivated by the customer.

“…..the electronic money issuer shall within five working days after blocking the electronic money account, give notice to the customer that the electronic money account is blocked and provide guidance on the process of reactivating the account,” the Bank said.

If the account is not reactivated within six months after it has been blocked, BOU said that the electronic money issuer shall close the electronic money account.

“Upon closure of the electronic money account under subsection the trustees (Electronic Money Issuers) are required to transfer the balance on the electronic money account and identifying information to the central bank,” the statement reads in part.

BOU shall then refund any unclaimed balances to the account holder, if the account holder is deceased, to their legal representative, upon a request made within seven years after the dormant account is transferred to it.

The central bank shall after the expiration of the seven (7) years, transfer unclaimed balances to the consolidated fund.

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