Lumitel e-wallet, a subsidiary of the Viettel Group based in Burundi, Africa, is helping universalize digital payments on the continent.

It began offering e-wallet services in March 2017, when there were only two e-wallets in Burundi: Ecocash and Smart Pesa. In less than a year, Lumitel had built a distribution network with 16,793 agents, covering 86 per cent of Burundi’s land area and becoming the largest mobile distribution service in the country.

In Burundi - one of the ten poorest countries in the world - Lumitel is the only e-wallet that can be used on basic phones, so customers can access and use the service on the 2G USSD network. It is now the No. 1 e-wallet in Burundi, with 1.4 million active subscribers, for a market share of more than 60 per cent. Since the beginning of this year, Lumitel e-wallet has been profitable and is the only e-wallet operated by a Vietnamese company in the country.

People in Burundi can transfer money, withdraw money nationwide, pay taxes, fees, electricity, and water bills, and pay off cards on their mobile phones.

After successfully deploying basic services, Lumitel e-wallet is now developing payment solutions for corporate customers, non-government organizations, and international agencies. It will deploy new services such as API, QR codes, and APP, and consumer and business loan services in the future.

After more than two years of operations, Lumitel e-wallet has contributed significantly to bringing the proportion of Burundi people using e-wallets to 18 per cent; much higher than the number of those that have bank accounts (7 per cent of the population).

Burundi’s Minister of Information and Communications Ms. Remy Ndayishimiye said Lumitel e-wallet not only helps people in urban areas but also those in rural areas. “We appreciate Lumitel e-wallet’s service and have seen a significant change, as Viettel not only creates jobs but also seen financial circulation no longer be paralyzed,” she added. “I believe the Group succeeded because they have penetrated deeper into the community, connecting people everywhere by phone.”

Lumitel e-wallet received the Gold Award in the fastest growing product category at the International Business Awards 2019 - IBA Stevie Awards held on October 19 in Vienna, Austria.