The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Bank Launches Mobile Banking Vans

Operating across the country, mobile banking vans owned by Bank of Kigali (BK) are expected to provide banking services in remote areas of Rwanda.

Rwanda's largest lender by profit launched five mobile vans, on Tuesday, aimed at tapping into the country's rural unbanked population, which also highlights that competition is driving innovation in the banking industry.

The US$300,000 vans will provide banking services to BK clients ranging from individuals, to Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) as well as Microfinance Institutions (MFIs).

"The objective is to reach and serve as many Rwandans as possible but also address the challenge of liquidity in Saccos," said Lawson Naibo, the Chief Operations Officer (COO) of BK.

According to Lawson, in the first phase, vans will help individual clients open accounts, withdraw and deposit money as well as MFI and Saccos.

"There has been a problem of liquidity management in these financial institutions but as a testing service not at this stage that we shall give loans, liquidity bottleneck shall be addressed under this project," he noted.

"We wondered how successful was the bank yet many were excluded from the services we offer."

The project also seeks to provide mobile money service to individual customers and give liquidity to their agents in rural areas and support the proposed Agency Banking.

For security purposes, the vans shall have no security convoy but with a modern General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) monitored at BK head office as well as connected to police.

Eric Rwigamba, the Technical Director of Access to Finance, said the initiative is welcome and that his institution will monitor the implementation. He pledged to intervene where necessary.

"This fits well in our reason of existing, which is to financially include many Rwandans," he said.

He is optimistic that the project will heavily contribute to achieving 90 per cent target of financial inclusion by 2020, and 80 per cent in 2017.

"We have to be true to our poor rural customers and let the 50 per cent unbanked be reached through our mobile vans," he said.

To date about 72 per cent of Rwandans have access to financial services, while only 22 per cent have bank accounts. Bank of Kigali targets 500,000 customers by 2015 up from 50,000 in 2009.

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