A few days ago this newspaper ran an editorial deploring the low levels of applying technology to develop our economies and making life easier.
It was pointed out that the most we can go is rave about the internet, but we have not done enough to harness the limitless potential of Information and Communication Technology.
It is satisfying to learn that Simtel, an electronics transactions provider that is best known for running some of the Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) we have in the country, is working hard to make our recently acquired electronic national identity cards compatible for conducting business transactions.
In other words, these simple-looking cards will, overnight, get transformed into debit or even credit cards. This is a great idea and should be given all the support it needs, financial and otherwise.
The example of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, should be taken, where SMART cards are used virtually everywhere including being the identity card, door lock, health and other social service access as well as being a very convenient all-in-one reader.
It is literally a security – or insurance – card. But we should hold on a minute. Is Simtel really going to get this off?
Everyone knows the excitement of getting an ATM card, and then the subsequent frustration of trying to use one to transact business.
Many people have complained about the eternally dysfunctional machines, and if at all they are working, end up not providing the service, but punish the user further by deducting the money that they wanted to withdraw when they actually were told they had insufficient funds, or some other such electronic chit chat.
Getting this money back onto your account by overwhelmed bank officials will be yet another story to tell. So, if Simtel is failing to cash in on this very lucrative but localised trade, how will it manage to run a national programme involving every Rwandan citizen who holds this electronic ID card?
Let the management of Simtel not raise false hopes that they will never satisfy. We need ATMs in tiptop working condition first, before we listen to these tales of electronic wonders. The queues in every Kigali banking hall are growing longer by the day.