The New Times (Kigali)

30 July 2012

Rwanda: BPR Gets Visa Certification

Banque Populaire du Rwanda (BPR), the country's leading bank by customer base, has introduced Visa payment card, boosting electronic payment system, which government is targeting to promote cashless economy.

With Visa certification, foreigners as well as clients of banks will be able to withdraw money on BPR's Automated Teller Machines (ATM) while BPR clients be able to carryout transaction on other banks' ATMs.

"International travelers no longer have to carry foreign currency into the country, but can simply use a card from their home market," Herman Klaassen, BPR's Chief Executive Officer said during the launch of the product on late last week.

The bank took a leading role in the banking sector innovations when it introduced mobile banking, a product that enabled the country to harness electronic payment system.

"We believe that penetration of electronic payment systems will grow and customers and businesses alike will continue to move from a cash based system to a cashless system as seen in other parts of the world," he said

Visa Inc, an American multinational financial services corporation that facilitates electronic funds transfers by providing financial institutions with Visa-branded payment products.

Jabu Basopo, Visa's area country Manager, Sub Saharan Africa noted that Visa aims at facilitating the country's efforts to usher in a cashless economy and promote financial inclusion.

"Our aim is to help financial Institutions to provide most efficient and reliable electronic payment systems to their customers," he said

For International card holders and other local banks will have to pay around US$1.25 (Rwf753.75) for every transaction and free for BPR clients.

BPR's ATMs are connected to national Switch (Rswitch), which has had several malfunctions.

Moreover, Visa launched its Branchless Solutions product in Rwanda early this year, the first of its kind on the continent and one which is expected to increase rural financial Inclusion and also help in shaping global commerce.

The central bank introduced the Rwanda Integrated Payment processing System (RIPPS) to improve interbank transactions.

This, according to experts is expected to save money, increase safety and also boost the rate at which financial transactions are carried out.

"Things are changing especially in the way we carry out business, time is becoming scarce in the business world, so people now need financial products that would suit in their busy life, and payment system becomes an option," Davis Mukiza, a Business consultant said.

The Minister of Finance, John Rwangombwa, said recently that; "The government's aim is to encourage all prayers to offer diversified products and services which tailor to all segments of Rwandan society."

With several banks now getting visa certification, there is optimism that sector will be relieved of reliance on cash and promote new innovation on payment instruments such as ATMs.

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