Concerns Arise Over Wendi E-Money Platform Implementation for PDM Program

Officials from the Ministry of Finance and PostBank Uganda Ltd convened in Kampala to address issues surrounding the implementation of the Wendi e-money platform for disbursing payments to Parish Development Model (PDM) program recipients.

Senior officials from the Ministry of Finance and PostBank Uganda Ltd met in Kampala to address serious issues concerning the Wendi e-money platform, which was recently implemented to disburse payments to Parish Development Model (PDM) program recipients.

During the meeting, which was hosted by Local Government Minister Raphael Magyezi, stakeholders discussed the ownership of the Wendi app as well as concerns about its susceptibility to abuse and hacking. Notably, there have been reports of millions of shillings in embezzlement due to app difficulties.

The State House Anti-Corruption Unit (SHACU) reported on social media that five PDM recipients’ Wendi accounts had been hacked, resulting in unauthorized withdrawals totaling Shs5 million. One suspect was remanded in detention after allegedly getting the victims’ log-in Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and used them to access their Wendi accounts.

PostBank Uganda, represented by Executive Director Andrew Kabeera, denied exaggerated assertions about weaknesses in the Wendi app, claiming that it was built internally and is secure. However, other government authorities reported conflicting information alleging the involvement of nameless Chinese nationals in the app’s creation.

The Treasury directed the shift to the Wendi platform for PDM cash payments in response to a Cabinet resolution passed in July 2023. This decision diverged from the original concept described in the PDM’s foundation statement, which called for direct distributions from the Treasury to qualifying Savings and Credit Cooperatives.

While Finance Ministry officials defended the Wendi app’s operation and security, complaints from PDM beneficiaries around the country sparked urgent conversations among parties to address the issues. Minister Magyezi highlighted that the conversations were preliminary, and that additional meetings will be held to identify solutions.

There are continuing efforts to integrate the Wendi app with the Parish Development Management Information System (PDMIS). PDMIS, controlled by the Ministry of Information, Communication, and Technology, allows for real-time tracking of monies transferred to PDM beneficiaries. However, poor integration presents issues for auditors entrusted with monitoring fund allocation.

PostBank Uganda reiterated ownership of the Wendi app, but voiced dissatisfaction with how claimed problems were portrayed in media stories. Despite attempts to clarify their position, PostBank declined to make more remarks, citing bias in reporting.

While the government claims that the transfer to the Wendi app was consultative and focused at expediting PDM cash payments, doubts persist concerning the e-wallet platform chosen and the participation of other banks in the process.

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