Erratic ATMs: Simtel to sign contract with banks

Simtel, Rwanda’s National Inter-bank network for electronic payment system, will this month sign a service level agreement (SLA) with commercial banks, formally defining their services and responsibilities to Automated Teller Machine (ATM) users.
ATM card. Many clients are complaining they can’t use their cards at ATM machines. (Photo/J. Mbanda)
ATM card. Many clients are complaining they can’t use their cards at ATM machines. (Photo/J. Mbanda)

Simtel, Rwanda’s National Inter-bank network for electronic payment system, will this month sign a service level agreement (SLA) with commercial banks, formally defining their services and responsibilities to Automated Teller Machine (ATM) users.

ATM usage in Rwanda was introduced in 2004 but since then clients have complained about the high level of unreliability of these machines.

Laurence, who would not reveal his last name, is a client of Commercial Bank of Rwanda (BCR). He said he tried to withdraw his money from the ATM located at Fina Bank’s Kisementi branch last week.

When he slotted the card and commanded the machine to draw money from his account through the normal process, the machine gave a response indicating that it was not able to complete the transaction.

Laurence who needed money to clear his monthly rent bills decided to withdraw the money by cheque, but the bank teller told him he had withdrawn all the money. He lost Frw300,000.

“It is frustrating because I did not get the money from the ATM yet my account was debited,” he said.   

Others have faced challenges of inadequate distribution of the ATMs.

“ATMs don’t provide guarantee to access one’s account as and when he needs to,” said Dan Kalisa, a client with Fina Bank from Kacyiru.

He said that sometimes there is a network breakdown which makes it difficult for the machines to operate efficiently, but it is difficult for the clients to blame commercial banks  either Simtel.

Rogers Mnyampenda, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Simtel, said that banks are in charge of making sure that clients are assisted and ensure client support once the bank cards are issued.

“They (banks) are supposed to replenish the machines,” he said, noting banks should make sure the machines have enough money.

He added that they now have monitoring equipments which show them how the machines are working.

“If we find a machine having any fault, we advise the bank to close it. If the money is not enough in the safe we tell banks to replenish the machine,” Munyampenda said.

However Hannington Namara, BCR’s head of corporate banking, said that the machines are always replenished in time and that Simtel should not shift the blame to commercial banks.

“If we put money in the machines and they don’t work entirely, what should we do?” Namara questioned.

Munyampenda said he hopes that the SLA will easily indicate everyone’s responsibility and it will assist the clients in solving their problems.

Simtel is now planning to import 30 Automated Transaction Machines form South Africa in October to satisfy the increasing demand of modern banking services.

Lillian Kayitesi, BCR’s head of marketing and communication, said BCR has 2,400 ATM users as of Tuesday.

In the same way, to slash the time it takes for the clients to acquire the ATM cards, Simtel will start making the cards with personal information in Rwanda starting in October, which means clients will be able to receive the cards in two days rather than three months, said Munyampenda.

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