Digitalisation of government services in developing countries is often heralded as a tool for enhancing transparency, improving service quality and mitigating informal payments to government officials. However, the impact of digitisation on these objectives is contingent upon the existing power dynamics between citizens and officials, and how digitalisation shapes this power asymmetry. This paper examines the digitalisation of business registration services, a decentralised process managed by city corporations and municipalities. Drawing on survey data and qualitative interviews, we explore the current practices surrounding the acquisition and renewal of trade licences. Despite business owners’ enthusiasm for digitisation to streamline processes and reduce costs, our findings reveal significant limitations in the actual implementation of digital systems, resulting in inefficiencies and minimal user benefits. Moreover, disparate efforts by different municipal entities to develop independent digital systems hinder information-sharing and exacerbate inefficiencies. Additionally, informal payments persist as a challenge, albeit with relatively minor financial implications. Our study underscores the potential of centralised efforts to establish robust, interoperable digital systems capable of combating corruption and enhancing service delivery in business registration processes.