Central bank reinstates mobile money charges

After three months of free mobile money transactions, charges will be reinstated on Monday 22nd June according to an announcement by the Central Bank.

The charges had been suspended for a 3 month period on March 18th to encourage uptake of cashless payments and reduce cash handling as part of the efforts to curb the transmission of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

The move had also waived charges on push and pull services between bank accounts and mobile wallets.

 

However, following the lapse of the 90-day period, the charges are set to be reinstated next week, a move the central bank said is also aimed at ensuring the sustainability of digital payment services.

 

The central bank however encouraged continued use of digital payments by both merchants and their clients adding that all traders are expected to accept digital payments are preferred form of payment.

Removal of charges on Mobile Money transactions drove up the uptake and usage of mobile money with the value of funds transferred growing by 450 per cent in the first4 months of the year to reach Rwf 40 billion (over $ $42 million), data from Rwanda Utilities Regulation Authority shows.

The development was among other things a result of a move by Central Bank and local Telcos to temporarily remove charges on transfers between bank accounts and mobile wallets, mobile money transfers as well as removing merchant fees on payments for all contactless transactions.

Following the analysis of the data by insight2impact, a resource centre it was established that costs of transfers could be the barrier to digital payment adoption in the country.

The analysis shows that with zero fees more people have switched to mobile money transfers.

With the number of unique subscribers, sending money virtually doubled from 600,000 in the week before lockdown to 1.2 million in the week after lockdown and 1.8M people in the final week of April.

The weekly value of money spent digitally mid-February to mid-April at merchant outlets increased 700 per cent further driving the uptake of cashless payments.

It remains unclear the impact the reinstating of the costs will have on uptake and usage of Mobile Money across the country.

cmwai@newtimesrwanda.com

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