Sending and receiving money to and from Tanzania has been made easy for Tigo Cash customers as the local telecom firm has launched its cross-border mobile money transfer together with its Tanzania sister firm’s Tigo Pesa.
The system integrates currency conversion, whereby money is sent in either Rwandan Francs or Tanzania Shillings and delivered when converted to the local currency of the recipient’s country.
Speaking during the official launch of the service at the Kigali Serena Hotel yesterday, Tongai Maramba, Tigo Rwanda general manager said the service was the first of its kind in the world that allows currency conversion.
He said a Tigo Cash subscriber will be able to send or receive money from another subscriber in Rwanda’s eastern neighbour at no cost.
“We have decided to launch the service following growing trade between the two countries and the commendable growth of the two mobile money platforms,” he said.
He added that the service aims at facilitating cross border trade, Diaspora families, truck drivers, importers and exporters from both countries.
According to National Bank of Rwanda’s latest Monetary Policy and Financial Stability statement, Rwanda’s imports from the East African Community last year stood at $516.4m (about Rwf344.9bn) while exports to the bloc were valued at $122.9m (about Rwf82bn).
“This is life-simplifying in terms of making different tax payments at border posts and making other payments during my travels,” said Abdalla Murenzi, a transporter who plies the Dar-es-Salaam-Kigali-Goma route.
Many people have been using international money transfer companies like Western Union, Dahabshill and MoneyGram to send and receive money.
Others have been sending money through drivers of buses that ply the routes, which is not only time consuming but also risky.
To send money from abroad to Rwanda, for instance, Western Union charges depend on the amount sent and the agent used, with the minimum being Rwf5,000 (about $7.5) for a transaction of less than $100 (about Rwf67,800), while for the same amount MoneyGram charges the sender $9.9 (about Rwf6,700).
MTN Rwanda was also recently given the go ahead by the National Bank of Rwanda to facilitate international mobile money transfers.
John Rwangombwa, the central bank Governor, said over Rwf330b (about $492.3m) was transacted through mobile money platforms last year, a 105 per cent increase from Rwf161b (about $240.2m) recorded in 2012.
The central bank recorded 57 million transactions through mobile money platforms during last year, representing a 159 per cent increase compared to the 22 million transactions recorded in 2012.