The New Times (Kigali)

7 December 2011

Rwanda: Visa to Boost BNR's Drive to Cashless Economy

Central bank's drive to usher in a cashless economy, which faced a sluggish take off, received a major boost after Visa Inc. signed a partnership agreement with government to promote electronic payment systems through the use of global visa payments technology.

With the launch of its Branchless Solutions, the first of its kind on the continent, Visa Inc. is optimistic that financial inclusion and cashless settlements in all transactions will play a significant role in shaping global commerce and local economies.

In its efforts to boost a cashless economy, the central bank, launched the Rwanda Integrated Payments Processing System (RIPPS), a system meant to enable the economy to shift to more efficient and reliable modes of financial transactions.

"Countries like Rwanda and continents like Africa may leap-frog over traditional payment card infrastructure and move straight to mobile banking and mobile payments," said Elizabeth Buse Visa Group President, Asia pacific, Central Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Experts are optimistic that Visa Inc.'s Branchless Solutions that is to be piloted in Rwanda will enable clients to use mobile phones to carry out financial transactions including payment of commodities without holding cash.

This product is part of programmes by Visa to develop Rwanda's electronic payment infrastructure, economy and workforce through a partnership dubbed 'charter of collaboration' launched on Monday.

Buse noted that Visa's global scale, network and technology infrastructure enables it (Visa) to provide local solutions, tailored to the needs of a particular country with or without advanced ICT infrastructure.

Under this partnership, Visa Inc. together with government will lay basic infrastructure requirements to enable the countrywide use of electronic payments including issuance and acceptance of payment cards and localisation of clearing and settlement services.

In addition, the partnership will provide the government to reach out to the financially excluded through the use of mobile solutions, enhance convenience and reduce costs of international money transfer into Rwanda.

Joseph W Saunders, the Chairman and CEO of Visa believes that the partnership will help the government achieve its Vision 2020 that aims at making the country a middle income nation with a per capita income of US$1000 by 2020.

"Partnerships such as these are the key to delivering the promise of economic growth and financial inclusion that we know electronic payments can provide, he said.

Gilbert Nishimwe, the Electronic Banking Manager at Bank of Kigali is hopeful that Visa will continue to support banks to strengthen their efforts to go electronic in all transactions.

He said: "Since we started using Visa, we have tremendously improved our electronic payment systems and this is our major focus as the leading bank in the country".

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