There is need for increased awareness on the suitability of Mobile Money as a preferred mode of payment as volumes and values have been dipping since September 2021. According to statistics from the Central Bank, volumes and values of Mobile payments have dropped significantly since the re-introduction of charges for merchants which have been at times passed on to clients. The charges were re-introduced in September by Mobile Money Rwanda, a MTN Rwanda’s FinTech subsidiary pricing it at 0.5 per cent commission for values over Rwf4,000. The telco defended the move arguing that the fee was previously at 1 per cent in the pre-covid-19 period before it was waived as part of efforts to promote uptake of digital payment services to help reduce chances of Covid-19 transition. However, latest data shows that the adjustment was not well received by the market as a section of users have shunned use of the payment mode. Values of merchant payments in the last week of August 2021 before introduction of the fees stood at about Rwf5.6bn, which has since dropped to about Rwf2.5bn as at the end of October. “When the fees were reintroduced, there was a drop to about Rwf3.1bn, in the week immediately after and stabilized at around Rwf2.5bn as at the end of October. In terms of the number of transactions, it remained more or less unchanged at around 300,000 transactions per week,” Peace Uwase, the Director-General of the Financial Stability at the Central Bank, said. The number of merchants dropped from over 25,000 in August to 22,297 in October. A number of merchants who spoke to The New Times on discontinuing use of MoMoPay said that with the introduction of fees and prohibition to transfer the costs to customers, they had resulted in the use of cash. This is especially the case for small scale traders such as market vendors who said they have slim profit margins. In response to the drop in volumes, Central Bank Governor John Rwangombwa said that the government is set to introduce an awareness campaign aimed at increasing the general public’s insights on digital payments. He said that the awareness will, among other things, seek to showcase the relevance and impact of mobile money as well as the cost of cash handling. Rwangombwa said that the central bank is also undertaking a study to determine appropriate charges for digital payments. He, however, noted that it would be unrealistic to expect the service to be free of charge, adding that it has to make business sense for investors to further develop it. Uwase, however, noted that all was not lost as increasingly clients have several payment options beyond mobile money as a mode of payment, including bank transfers, card payments, among others. The New Times understands that Mobile Money Rwanda Ltd has increased the number of support staff to raise awareness and respond to customers’ concerns and queries on the subject. Overall, digital payments values and volumes grew as of September 2021 compared to September 2020. Active mobile payment subscribers increased by 12.3 per cent between September 2020 and September 2021 while the number of mobile payment transactions increased to 237M.