The number of credit cards issued by SIMTEL is still quite low with only 13, 000 cards having been issued by 2008.
Moreover, recent information has shown that only 40 percent are active each month. “As a matter of comparison, the ratio in Western Europe is 1 ATM to 1000 inhabitants. In Rwanda the ratio is approximately, 1 ATM to 400,000 inhabitants,” the national payment system framework and strategy shows.
According to Central data, the ATMs network processes an average of Rwf 30 million daily and it is only limited to Kigali City with 22 machines and only one unit located in Butare.
“The development of the new Rwandan National Payment System is crucial because of the rapid changes and developments in the whole economy,” the note reads.
The national payment system is gearing up to provide the necessary infrastructure for smooth capital movement in both the public and private sector. It will allow broader access to financial services and improve the mobilization of more long-term savings and financial investments.
The system is also in line with Vision 2020, in keeping with which Rwanda aims to be a knowledge based economy; the regional financial hub offers services with emphasis on ICT.
Information from the Central Bank indicates that the current payment system infrastructure and framework is not appropriate to support the needs of a growing economy, nor is the existing infrastructure robust in terms of meeting the country’s needs on a forward-looking basis.
Through the Central Bank, the government aims to transform the Rwandan society from cash-based oriented to one that uses one using modern payment systems; by encouraging the use of non-cash payment instruments. This will give the entire population access to both domestic and international transactions.
The idea is to “have a National Payment System that is compliant with international standards and open to both domestic and international payment service providers with an interoperable infrastructure to increase efficiency of economic management by reducing transactions costs,” official data shows.
It is said that the section of the population with bank accounts is far below the acceptable levels, with less than 1 million bank accounts in the whole system representing about 20 % of the adult population of 5 million people.
Normally the population with bank accounts should amount to 70 percent, excluding microfinance institutions.
“So much cash outside the banking system fosters financial crimes like forgery of paper based payment instruments, counterfeiting bank notes and physical robbery,” the strategy reads in part.