In May, the Ministry of Finance released findings of the 2020 Finscope study which showed progress in financial inclusion with 93 per cent of the adult population, up from 89 per cent in 2016. The adult population was estimated at around 7.1m Rwandans (aged 16 and above)
The study, conducted by Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR), was aimed at understanding the levels of financial inclusion and identify the drivers and barriers to financial access.
However, a deeper review of the report showed the existence of challenges which financial sector players such as banks could turn into opportunities which would deliver a win-win scenario for service providers and their clients.
For instance, out of the adult population, only 36 per cent is formally banked and are using banking services. This is about 2.6m Rwandans. While this is progress from about 16 per cent 4 years ago, it is an indicator of a market that local bankers could look into to deepen the quality of inclusion.
While much progress has been achieved through non-bank avenues such as Mobile Money and Saccos, formal banking would see more Rwandans not only able to make savings but access the much-sought credit for investment and entrepreneurship.
A growth of formally banked Rwandans would serve in response to low loan disbursement whereby only 494,000 Rwandans have a loan with banks,
Also, of concern was that young adults between the ages of 16-24 years are more likely to be unbanked and excluded, according to the study.
As banks seek to have a role in the financial sector development, tailoring their products and services to the context of the local market would increase the formally banked as well as increase their clientele.
Some banks that have made attempts to adjust their services to include digital and more accessible services such as micro-digital loans have proven that there is an opportunity amidst the challenge. For instance, digital loans which are characterized by shorter processing time, fewer requirements and are more convenient for low-income households facilitated the disbursement of Rwf25.41 billion in 2019.
As we celebrate the progress in inclusion, financial sector players ought to use the findings to adjust relevance.