Last week, the Managing Director of Rwanda Commercial Bank (BCR), David Kuwana announced some good news, albeit belatedly.
He said that by the end of this year, Rwanda will be dotted with an extra 100 Automated Teller Machines (ATM). Someone from a more banking-savvy nation would be tempted to ask, what’s the big deal? Until he or she is informed that despite our aspirations to be the ICT hub of the region, the country has less that 20 ATMs!
There is nothing as frustrating as standing in a long queue at a bank simply because some of the counters are unattended.
The feeling gets worse when one is seeking to deposit money. Why should I be made to wait yet I am bringing you money?
When Simtel was born some years ago, the feeling in many people’s minds was that at last the frustrations in banking halls would be a thing of the past. How wrong they were!
Simtel, as a conglomerate of most of the major banks in the country, should have by now overcome teething problems and made electronic payment a household name, but all it has done is slowly transform into a white elephant.
In this day and age, one should be able to have access to his or her money 24/7, but not in Rwanda. If you are among the lucky few to have an ATM card your luck might still be with you if the nearest ATM does not suffer frequent breakdowns.
Yes, banking in Rwanda has come a long way from the time when a married woman could not open an account without the husband’s permission, and that was only 15 years ago.
BCDI (now Ecobank) paved the way more than a decade ago when it pioneered electronic banking and computerized its services.
Conventional wisdom would have been that other banks would have jumped on the wagon and strived to improve on BCDI’s audacity; but they kept all their eggs in Simtel’s basket.
Time has come for our banks and other service industries to regard and treat their customers as valuable assets and not just milking cows, by providing services that make them happy.