As efforts to boost cashless based payments gain traction more financial institutions are coming up with initiatives to encourage Rwandans to use debit and credit cards and other e-payment platforms.
KCB Bank Rwanda has, for instance, launched a promotion in which it refunds the cash of customers who use their Visa cards to make transactions at select restaurants.
Through the initiative, dubbed Pay&Go, the bank is working with selected city-based restaurants, including Chez John, Masters Lounge, Ogopogo, Sundowners, Africa Bite, Lamane and Makfast, to promote e-payment facilities.
Albert Akimanzi, the bank’s head of marketing and communication, said the initiative “is only a practical illustration on the effectiveness of card payments with the added bonus of a free lunch”.
He said the initiative will add to Rwanda’s efforts to increase use of non-cash modes of payments as it moves toward a cashless economy.
“It also demonstrates KCB Bank’s determination to drive innovation in the financial services industry,” Akimanzi said.
He noted that the bank offers a wide range of e-payment products designed to ease customers’ lives.
“Payment services are quickly transitioning from cash to cashless-based platforms. That’s why we regularly reach out to customers to educate them about the various platforms to ease payment processes,” he said.
KCB Bank Rwanda has about 50 merchants around the country, which are strategically located around frequent customer purchase points such as grocery shops, fuel stations, restaurants, and general stores.
“We are progressively growing our points of sale (POS) presence in Rwanda. It’s vital to educate both merchants and customers so that these services have more relevance in their day to day lives,” Akimanzi said.
He said the bank moves an average of 3,000 transactions every month, which is still low. However, the figure could rise with the adoption of card payments.
Campaigns geared at boosting cashless economy
Government and financial sector stakeholders have in the past launched similar campaigns geared at encouraging citizens to embrace e-payment facilities.
Last year, a similar campaign dubbed “Fuel up with Visa card” was launched to promote the use of digital cards at selected pump stations across the country.
The campaign allows motorists with Visa credit, debit and other prepaid cards to pay for fuel from Mt Meru, Engen, Source Oil, SP and Hash gas stations.
Banks have also deployed over 850 POS machines to facilitate use of cards. The network of ATMs for different local and international debit and credit cards has also grown over the years, pushing up the figures of the paperless community.
The public transport sector has also embraced use of e-fare payment system. The Tap&Go, a new smart card-based fare payment solution was introduced by local tech firm, AC Group.
The innovation looks to automate public transport payment systems and to promote cashless economy, according to Patrick Buchana, the chief executive officer. The initiative is a joint venture between AC Group, a Rwanda technology company specialising in smart transport solutions, the government and city public transport service providers.
Lucy Mbabazi, the Visa Rwanda country manager, said drives promoting e-payments are a win-win undertaking for consumers and service providers, adding that they require incentive to keep the momentum.
Use of e-payments grows
Use of card-based payments has increased drastically, with the number of ATMs increasing by 30.1 per cent between 2012 and 2015, while that of POS merchants increased by 203.5 per cent.
The number of debit cards increased by almost 67.2 per cent and that of credit cards was up 733.7 per cent between 2012 and 2015, according to latest statistics from the central bank. This has equally pushed up the volume of transactions, as well as the value pointing to the level of appreciation of these facilities by the Rwandan public.
The good performance characterised by significant growth of POS transactions was driven by expansion of the terminals that inched up 50 per cent.
The acceptance of SmartCash cards on POS and introduction of two new POS acquirers on market has also helped drive-up the figures of merchants and eased access to services. Use of e-payment facilities has particularly been strengthened by the numerous campaigns encouraging Rwandans to embrace e-payments and cards.
Mobile technology continues to play a big role in enhancing electronic payments, including mobile money transfer service, that will in the long-run help create an inclusive cashless society in Rwanda.
According to the central bank statistics, the number of mobile money accounts increased by 432 per cent from over 1.4 million to 7.7 million between December 2012 and December 2015.
Equally, the number of transactions using mobile money increased by 659.8 per cent from 22.2 million to 168.6 million, while that of agents increased by 1211.7 per cent from 3,085 to 40,467 during the same period. According to the central bank, this has significantly increased financial inclusion in the country.