Rwanda - Key Findings from the Scoping Report
- Rwanda has put in place a comprehensive framework for e-payments driven by a visionary goal of establishing a cashless society by 2017. There is a fairly well developed payments infrastructure, and regulations that spell out clear rules of engagement for players. The aspirations of the government are clearly articulated, including a push for an interoperable mobile money agent network. The practical application of this however, has yet to be fully established in the market.
- As part of the drive to a cash-free market, the Rwandan government signed an agreement with Visa in December 2011 to develop an interoperable solution for mobile financial services. This partnership has resulted in the launch of mVisa, a mobile banking technology that is designed to meet the basic banking needs of Rwanda’s unbanked and underserved population.
- Rwanda has three GSM operators, with a total coverage of 97.3 percent of the country. Mobile penetration currently stands at 40 percent, with MTN being the leading service provider. According to a 2012 report by Finscope, proximity is not a barrier to financial inclusion since more than 90 percent of adult Rwandans live within a 5 km radius of a formal financial institution. The country’s Umurenge savings and credit cooperatives provide a good potential distribution network for mobile financial services, and many institutions are looking at leveraging this network as service points for their customers.
- Most financial institutions in Rwanda have deployed or are in the process of deploying a mobile wallet. The mobile network operators have equally deployed mobile money services. Considering that only 40 percent of the population has a phone, the drive by operators to sign new users may increase the number of customers using mobile wallets. Banks will have to come up with more enticing products to attract wallet customers from operators. This may lead to more partnerships between banks and operators, or banks joining the mVisa platform which is designed to be a more ubiquitous payment system platform.
- The players in this market would benefit from technical assistance related to product design, marketing and agent network management. Players in the region could also learn from the experience of Rwanda’s attempt at building a shared agent network and mVisa as a shared platform for mobile financial services.