Banking being an industry, which undergoes rapid changes, local banks have acknowledged the need to adopt innovative ways of utilising Information Communication Technologies (ICT) if they are to stay competitive.
Players in the industry have observed that ICTs, once employed will remove the physical barrier between clients and banks.
Previously, any customer wishing to make any transactions would have to travel to the location of the bank and present himself physically. However about ten of the national banks are yet to introduce any innovative products that would bring the technology gap between the bank and the client.
Daniel Sackey, the Managing Director of Ecobank said that ICT has been the major tool to reach out to their clients. Ecobank now has SMS and Internet facility that support on-line banking.
“We have the largest number of ATMs in the country, with an option of operating international transactions,” Sackey said.
Sanjeev Anand Managing Director of Rwanda Commercial Bank (BCR) said that ICT has been an integral part of the banks infrastructure providing an opportunity to deploy electronic payments, reduce errors and have accurate information.
“We intend to enhance this through transaction initiation where our customers will transact through Internet,” Anand said. He added that their product is in line with BNR ambitious plan of introducing an electronic payment system.
With close to 37,000 clients across the country, tending to about 500 customers per day BCR has also introduced a queue management system introduced to manage cues.
“We were losing clients because of long queues that are not managed, but the system helped us to retain our customers and even attract new ones,” he hailed.
Christine Ndayisenga of Bank of Kigali (BK) said that electronic products in BK have helped the institution to reach all clients. BK now accepts international VISA cards, and soon the bank will launch the use of debt cards to allow clients use the card in different point-of-sells.
“This is an added value to our products and services because we (BK) intend to install 250 Point of Sale machines and 46ATMs across the country,” she added.
The other facility mentioned is the ZIP which is a multi-currency card that allows international transfers targeting Diaspora for remittances and the un-banked community.
Ndayisenga said the facility funded by World Bank and a government investment of Rwf2.1bn, is already on market with some 6,000 customers already enrolled. The new system involves Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS), an Automated Clearing House (ACH) and a Central Securities Depository (CSD).
Once implemented the National payment System (NPS) will conform to international standards.
“In the last 20 years, Central Bank was regarded as the modern institution with most sophisticated IT equipment but now we are among those who are lugging behind in ICT modernization,” said Francois Kanimba recently.
We expect that the project will results into banks developing new products, new customers, new markets and new businesses.
ICT has helped banks to store volumes and volumes of information relating to customers, products in digital form virtually and it can be easily retrieved and conveniently.
“Storage and data management is more efficient with assured accuracy, while it would take more than ten days. It takes half an hour to retrieve data,” Kanimba said.