Acquisition of ATM cards to be reduced to 5 working days
In order to diversify the electronic payment landscape in Rwanda, SIMTEL has started the production of a proprietary chip-based debit card that is now available to all banks in Rwanda.
According to the SIMTEL Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sigrid Bruch, these cards will be individually branded for domestic banks interested in launching a non-Visa based debit card.
”SIMTEL has started a pilot with 3 banks in the country, producing over 600 cards in a three-week period and will ramp-up production in the coming weeks after a preliminary test period is completed,” Bruch said.
According to availed information, the African Development Corporation (ADC) made the decision to produce cards locally when it invested in the SIMTEL switch in mid-2008.
This was after it realised that the Rwandan market was being under-served by third party producers in foreign countries with delivery times of up to six months.
This means that ATM card production time will be reduced to a period of 5 working days instead of the 6 months it was taking.
Over the last 18 months, SIMTEL’s majority shareholders have invested heavily in the physical infrastructure required to deliver reliable, secure and internationally recognized payment services as well as to improve the human resource capacity in the company.
This comes as a response to protests that the process was long and blocked with numerous bottlenecks.
The locally produced chip-and-pin based cards according to Bruch, are in-line with international security standards and are interoperable, as per the regulator National Bank of Rwanda requirements.
The SIMTEL boss said that the company is looking forward to continue working with the banks in the country in order to provide Rwandans with the most up-to-date technology in the payment industry, while at the same time ensuring that customers are served efficiently by the national switch.
“An integral part of SIMTEL’s action plan is to receive PCI DSS certification, which is an independent certification, provided to payment industry players guaranteeing that the company operates to the highest level of international security standards,” Sigrid Bruch told Business Times.
She also added that an audit of the company is scheduled for this month and upon successful completion of the rigorous security standards, SIMTEL will be one of only five companies in Africa to have successfully completed the process on the continent.
During the recent presentation of the annual monetary policy statement, Governor of National Bank of Rwanda Francios Kanimba told stake holders that concerning retail payment systems, in 2010 concerted effort will be put in areas of international connectivity international issuing of cards acquisition of ATMs based on the principle of interoperability.
”As a first step to ‘card’ issue to their clients, all banks have plans to issue a debit card, either a ‘family’ card in the case of the regional banks or proprietary card for domestic purposes and deploy ATMs at their branches and remote areas,” the policy statement read in part.
Rwandan banks, in the year 2009 continued to issue payment cards and SIMTEL as a common platform ensured that the infrastructure on which they are used is interoperable. In addition, the two banks Bank de Kigali (BK) and Ecobank obtained VISA international issuing and acquiring licences as principle members.
At the close of 2009 10 Ecobank ATMSs could accept international cards and all ATMs will be able to accept all kinds of cars when host-to-host connectivity between SIMTEL and e-process completed.