The New Times (Kigali)

14 December 2012

Rwanda: Visa to Scale Up Mobile Money Solutions

Photo: In2EastAfrica
Rwandan Franc.

Due to its ability to provide an interactive network in the mobile payment system, Visa's mVisa facility will scale up mobile money solutions to bank the unbanked, especially the rural folks.

Visa Country Director, Ginger Baker, believes that the mVisa has the ability to share its infrastructure and ease the cost of mobile payment systems among players to boost access to financial services in the country.

"The power and ability to share cost amongst players in the systems and share agent network is something that will help to scale up mobile money solutions," she said in an exclusive interview with Business Times.

Visa Inc. is an American global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions and governments in more than 200 countries. It launched its services in the country last year.

Unlike other mobile money platforms, mVisa gives the account holder to access financial services from any Visa agent or merchant regardless of financial institutions or mobile money providers, something that helps to increase financial inclusion.

"It means that if I have an mVisa account, I can go to any Visa merchant with a Visa logo and get my money. It does not matter whom I have a relationship with is," Baker pointed out.

"Today if you have mobile money, you can use agents who are sophisticated with the mobile money (platform) you are using," she said.

"The offering comes with optional outsourced processing services based on technology from Fundamo, a South African company acquired by Visa last year." she added.

Baker said that the mVisa overcomes the lack of access to physical bank branches and works across different banking institutions and mobile networks.

This, according to experts, will help rural folks to access financial services considering the low penetration of financial institutions in rural areas.

"When you consider mobile phone penetration that is higher than that of financial institutions in rural areas, it means that mVisa that works across other platforms of mobile money is the best way to boost financial inclusion," Job Opar, a customer care expert told The New Times.

Moreover, this will boost financial education and promotion of the cashless economy the country is banking on to leapfrog into a service-based economy, a move that led to the Visa-Government partnership.

"A lot has been achieved in Rwanda in a year because of the cooperation at all levels and common understanding of the benefits of moving to electronification," Elizabeth Buse, Visa's Group President, Asia Pacific, Central Europe Middle East and Africa, observed.

Indeed, for the past year, the company has helped the country to bolster its payment systems through the introduction of Visanet. This allows relevant transactions to be settled in local currency besides laying a foundation for electronic payments.

To ensure long term economic success, Visa also increased capacity building for staff in the financial sector to broaden the use of electronic payments in the country.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, John Rwangombwa, says the public private partnership in harnessing payment systems in the country is a positive impact towards matching commercial interest in a mutually constructive manner.

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