The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Central Bank Focuses On Safer Payment Systems

The National Bank of Rwanda will this year enhance the payment systems with innovations that will strengthen the core structure of the financial sector.

To achieve this, the bank will complete four main projects by the end of 2013, including upgrading cheque standards, implementing the commodities exchange, completing the ongoing connectivity to the East African payment system and installing a new banking software system, said central bank governor Claver Gatete.

The bank has already published new standards for cheques issued to bank clients. It is also accrediting new printers that will provide banks with improved cheque quality.

"The new standardised cheques are now being issued by banks to their clients," Gatete said on Friday while presenting the monetary policy and financial stability statement.

"The cheques have more security features and this will help to fast-track cheque payments system, with more security and trusted methods of processing."

The central bank is also involved in the implementation of the East African Commodities Exchange (EAX), which is an electronic platform expected to allow the trading of shares across several asset classes such as agriculture and minerals. Once operational, the EAX will act as a platform linking the regional capital markets and, thus, make them stronger and more attractive to investors.

"Further to regional integration, the East African Payment System (EAPS) is undergoing internal tests. We will soon start cross-border tests with the Bank of Tanzania," Gatete said.

"This will give traders another choice through which they can channel funds for their regional businesses. This will improve regional trade."

Together with Visa, the central bank is testing a new mobile service called Mvisa, designed to meet banking needs of Rwanda's unbanked and underserved population.

"Mvisa's processing services will be based on technology from Fundamo, a South African company acquired by Visa in 2011. We expect the product to be launched later this year, with Bank of Kigali and Urwego Opportunity Bank as the pioneers," Gatete said.

The central bank is also looking into putting in place a data warehouse, which will act as a linkage between all stakeholders in the economy.

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