Urwego Opportunity Bank (UOB) has introduced mobile banks as one way of taking banking services to rural areas, which have hitherto been marginalised in accessing financial services.
Francis Ndayiziga, the Branch Banking Division Leader told Business Times in an interview on Saturday that the product is flexible in its approach to rural banking.
“We have introduced this product to see how we can address problems of lack of banking services in rural areas; SACCOs have a lot of deposits but cannot access banks and they end up losing their money to thieves,” he said.
Ndayiziga said the mobile banks, which will be operating using en-route vans would be stationed in rural areas to help the SACCOs access banking services by depositing and withdrawing money.
The mobile banks will be collecting deposits at no cost from SACCOS in the evenings and bringing cash in the morning when the SACCOs open for business.
“For individual banking, we target markets and trading centres. We ask people to bank their money which is later taken to our branches for depositing,” he said.
This comes at a time when the National Bank of Rwanda called on banks to support financial inclusion for all by targeting rural areas.
Central bank Governor, Francois Kanimba, said he expects new strategies and ideas from financial institutions to boost the availability of financial services to the poor in rural areas.
The Governor noted that SACCOs had performed well in mobilising people into savings groups but observed that the challenge lay in accessing banking services to deposit clients’ funds.
The Executive Secretary of the Association of Micro Finance Institutions of Rwanda, Rita Ngarambe, anticipates that such products are suitable for rural areas and would promote financial inclusion for all.
“The rural poor who constitute 85 pecent have been discriminated against in accessing financial services through banks due to financial illiteracy and accessibility as most banks operate in urban areas,” she said.
According to government’s financial inclusion objective, 80 percent of the population should access banking services by 2017, up from the current 21 percent.