The number of Rwandan adults who have access to financial services increased between 2016 and 2020, largely driven by the rise in informal savings groups as well as the rise in mobile money services.
According to the FinScope 2020 survey, 93% of Rwandans have access to formal financial services, which reflect a rise of 4 percentage points from 89% in 2016.
The figures are a reflection of Rwandan adults who are financially included in terms of accessing and using both formal and informal financial products.
However, 0nly about 2.6 million adults in Rwanda are formally banked, the recently released 2020 FinScope Survey Report shows.
In 2016, only 1.4 million adult Rwandans were formally banked.
The study commissioned by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning in partnership with Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR) sought to understand the levels of financial inclusion, identify the drivers and barriers to financial access.
Among the findings were that only about 36 per cent of adults in Rwanda are banked from 26 per cent in 2016.
While this is progress in comparison to the previous study, it remains relatively low considering the number of banks in the local market, 16 with experts saying it is indicative of the need for innovation.
Of the financially included, 5.5 million adults in Rwanda use formal financial services, including the banking sector and other formal financial services from insurance firms, mobile network operators among others.
The excluded section of the population, about half a million people were found to be traditionally vulnerable groups such as the poor, those residing in remote rural areas, youth, women, and the adult (senior citizen) population.
The increase in the banked population was attributed to new banking channels entering the market resulting in increased outreach of existing banks.
"High uptake and usage of banking products have also led to formal financial inclusion. The growth in the banking products or services was driven by both savings account and as well transactional products including credit facility products such as credit and overdraft," the survey established.
Among the barriers cited by those who do not hold bank accounts included affordability, lack of access to service providers while others said that they find no value or use of banking services.
The low levels of formal banking could be attributed to relatively low loan disbursement to the public. Only 494,000 Rwandans have a loan with banks, the survey showed.
To put this in a context, this number is less than the population of Gasabo District, which is inhabited by about 500,000 people.
Kigali has the highest formally banked population with each of its 3 districts having over 78 per cent of its population banked. The statistics are not as positive in rural areas where a significant majority of the population lives.
Karongi, Burera, Ngororero Districts have the lowest banked population at 14 per cent, 13 per cent and 8 per cent respectively.
Young adults between the ages of 16-24 years remain are more likely to be unbanked and excluded, the survey established.
Uzziel Ndagijimana, the Minister of Finance said that financial inclusion is one of the core drivers of an inclusive economy and the Government has invested significantly in removing systemic barriers to the uptake of financial services.
"The FinScope survey shows that there has been tremendous improvement in financial inclusion. The work is not over yet. The objective is to achieve 100% financial inclusion by 2024 so I encourage everyone involved to keep the momentum," he said.
Early this year, the Central told the New Times that digital solutions by banks and telcos will help drive-up access to credit with micro-digital loans driving up access to credit last year.
A total of Rwf25.41 billion was disbursed in digital loans in 2019 alone. Digital loans are characterized by shorter processing time, fewer requirements and are more convenient for low-income households as opposed to conventional loans.