Cashless economy drive gets boost as BPR unveils new digital banking solutions


The bank's new head offices that are nearing completion in the city centre. / Timothy Kisambira

More Rwandans will now be able to access digital financial services, including micro-loan and bulk money transfer, following the unveiling of new drive to roll out new tech-based banking facilities by BPR.

Officials from the lender, which is part of the Atlas Mara Group, say the bank will also upgrade the existing products with new features to ease the banking experience of customers.

According to Maurice Toroitich, the BPR chief executive, the lender will introduce agency banking by the end of this quarter, as well as roll out a mobile micro-lending facility, and Visa and MasterCard and Masterpass debit and credit cards.

brp chief Maurice Toroitich speaks during the launch of the e-banking solutions. / Timothy Kisambira

Already, the bank has launched an improved internet banking platform, where customers will be able do a number of banking transactions, including paying taxes, electricity and water bills among other services.

“This digital platform now enables customers to conduct bulk transfers, such as payment of salary and fund transfer to other bank accounts, instantly,” Toroitich said.

He was optimistic that the latest products could be a game-changer “given the fact that they make transactions instant, easy and simple”.

He added that customers will no longer have to go through manual interventions to make and receive payments.

Mobile banking

Meanwhile, the bank also upgraded its mobile banking platform and installed new features that will enable customers to transfer funds to other bank accounts instantly without having to go through manual approvals or third party checks.

BPR’s e-banking platform. The bank also launched Visa and MasterCard debit and credit cards. / Timothy Kisambira
Toroitich explains to customers how one of the bank’s mobile digital banking platforms works. / Timothy Kisambira

According to Toroitich, mobile banking has become a way of life and therefore credit providers must be innovative to remain relevant in the continuously changing banking terrain.

To be able to access the facility, customers can register at their branch or download the App for free. BPR has already formed a partnership with telecom firms Tigo Rwanda and MTN to launch Push & Pull services.

The service enables the lender’s customers to deposit (push) or withdraw (pull) money from their accounts to their Tigo and MTN e-wallets and vice versa by dialing *182# and *500#, respectively, and following prompts.

Easing payments for govt services

According to Xavier Shema Mugisha, the BPR retail banking manager, the financial institution has also partnered with Rwanda Online, the operators of the Irembo online portal, to enable customers to pay for different government services electronically.

Mugisha, the BPR retail banking manager. / Timothy Kisambira

The official said that the bank will keep leveraging new technologies to improve customer experience, adding that customers will always be at the centre of the day-to-day operations.

What customers say

Aline Uwitonze, a Kigali businesswoman and BPR customer, said the new initiatives by the bank could help reduce the cost of transactions.

She, however, added that most of the technologies were still expensive in terms of transaction charges.

The bank’s new digital products come at the time when government has been encouraging sector players to bring to the market innovation that support the country’s push toward a cashless economy.

Last year, the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR) launched a campaign to encourage the business community and professional bodies to embrace use of electronic payment systems.

Why a cashless economy

Rwanda seeks to become a financial and digital hub by 2020 where all citizens will be financially included.

According to the Finscope report, formal inclusion was at 68 per cent of which mobile money added to 23 per cent.

However, despite the quest for a cashless Rwanda by 2020, central bank statistics recently revealed that businesses were losing up to 6 per cent in non-electronic transactions compared to 2 per cent if they used digital solutions.

The McKinsey report of September 2016 estimated digital financial service to have potential of boosting annual GDP of all emerging economies, including Rwanda, by at least $3.7 trillion by 2025, or 6 per cent above baseline projected GDP.

Sector experts have since applauded the current innovations saying they will make transactions much easier and customer-friendly.

The experts further believe that with more and more digital financial service products, economies like Rwanda will be able to provide services at low cost, as well as deepen inclusion and also make profits.

This could equally attract an additional $4.2 trillion in new deposits into the financial system as more people access formal financial services to save and transact.