As the new wave sweeps towards a cashless economy, Rwanda has equally kept pace.
Telecom companies and banks through mobile banking to create a platform for the introduction of the cashless economy that will help to bring on board the unbanked, especially those in rural areas.
The developments and innovation in Rwanda’s ICT sector have paved way for an economy where cash will be disregarded in transactions.
Meanwhile, the government, civil society and financial services have recently taken strides to promote financial inclusion for all yielding a tangible Rwf10 billion as savings from SACCOs.
But this initiative crippled at its infancy by lack of access to banking services to tap into the huge savings from SACCOs, lack of infrastructure has left a lot to be desired in banking the unbanked and called for another intervention.
Economic observers believe that through mobile banking, the current majority of the unbanked, who are rural based, and accounting for nearly 80 per cent of the population, will be reached, facilitating economic growth.
“Our service is very popular upcountry and has helped many who did not have access to financial services. More than 60 per cent of all our agents are based outside Kigali today,” Albert Kinuma, MTN’s Mobile Manager said.
John Bosco Sebabi, the Director of Payment Systems in the central bank asserts that mobile payments and banking are one way to financial inclusion and that the bank is keen to develop this aspect of mobile payments and banking.
“We have seen a rapid growth in the use of the mobile phone as a payment instrument,’ he said, adding that government through RDB has just laid the fibre optic network at all the head quarters of banks to facilitate the m-payment system.
Mobile banking is also expected to provide limitless opportunities to culminate into these challenges. Mobile banking is the transfer of monetary value from one individual to the other via a mobile telephone.
Mobile banking also gives the client an opportunity to open and access their accounts on a mobile phone.
The recent success in the telecom and banking sectors are expected to stir up a cashless economy.
“We are going towards a cashless economy and mobile banking is the drive to this. It is helping us to serve our customers better and also decongest our banking halls,” Yvonne Gilbert Nishimwe, the electronic banking manager at Bank of Kigali noted.
Salma Ingabire, Mobile Banking Product Manager of Bank Populaire du Rwanda (BPR) is optimistic that mobile banking will bring a new dawn in the future of financial services sector in the country.
“We will create a facility that will allow people to save money without the hassle of doing it the traditional way of queuing in the bank. You come to the bank when you deem it better,” she said.
Ingabire notes that the objective of mobile banking is to reduce cash transactions in line with the country’s ICT policy.
The policy, according to Sebabi, emphasises the issue of modern payment instruments including mobile payments.
MTN Rwanda, the lead telecom company has over 310,000 on mobile money with more than Rwf19 billion transferred since the service was launched.
Tigo Rwanda which started this year has also wooed many on their Tigo cash service.
BPR, the champion of the mobile banking in the country has registered 75,000 people with 8,000 transactions per day. It is expecting 120,000 to subscribe with a drastic increase of 20,000 transactions a day by the end of the year.
According to Nishimwe, Bank of Kigali had registered 25,000 customers by end of May this year, with 6464 customers for Visa card. The bank is also soon launching the sales product card where people will be able to carry out transaction on a card.
Sebabi reassures that the central bank has several regulations in place that ensure the smooth operations of mobile banking to achieve its objective, adding that “ before licensing a mobile money service, our technical team ensures that the system is secure”.
“The Payment Services Providers regulation, for instance, puts limits to the amounts that can be sent through this channel. The same regulations also put in place float management measures”, he said.
MTN confirms that all security measures have been put in place to ensure that hackers
do not access people's money, adding that controls on IT and in the4 overall processes are in place.