New data reveals that 90% of international money transfers to Rwanda go through mobile money wallets.
A report released this Tuesday by one of the world’s leading digital money transfer company, WorldRemit, shows that Rwanda – along with Tanzania – is experiencing the fastest growth in mobile money remittances in East Africa, increasing at an average of 9% month-on-month.
WorldRemit is an online money transfer service that provides international remittance services to expatriates and migrant workers.
“Transfers to mobile money accounts make up 90% of WorldRemit’s transactions to Rwanda, and is growing rapidly,” the report reads in part.
“This rapid surge is in line with Rwanda’s push towards a cashless economy, with the National Bank of Rwanda estimating that mobile money account users increased by 18% in 2017,” the report adds.
These new findings were announced by WorldRemit ahead of Mobile 360 Africa hosted in Kigali by GSMA, a body representing mobile operators across the world, later this week.
WorldRemit is the leading global provider of remittances to mobile money – processing 74 per cent of all international transfers landing in mobile money accounts.
In Rwanda, WorldRemit partners with Tigo/Airtel and MTN mobile telephone operators.
MTN Rwanda chief executive, Bart Hofker, said that even though he is not aware of how much money is transferred internationally through other channels, he is “not surprised” by these statistics for Rwanda.
“I am not surprised by the statistics because of our growth rates. Mobile money transaction is safe, fast, transparent, easy and with very reasonably priced. Another element that is important is that people do not need a bank account. The majority of Rwandans do not have a bank account, ” he said.
“The international money transfer through MTN Mobile Money is a fast growing business. The controls are there. MTN Rwanda is audited and under oversight of BNR. With BNR we share the objective to create a safe and affordable cashless society,” Bart noted.
As for Airtel/Tigo Rwanda, says Steve Gasana, the Airtel Money Product Manager, “We have a very good partnership with World remit for international remittance that allows Airtel Money/Tigo Cash subscribers to receive money transferred from all over the world via World remit channels. Soon the partnership will allow Airtel-Tigo subscribers to send money as well across the globe.”
The partnership aims at facilitating all kinds of financial transactions for our customers including international remittance transactions which contributes to drive cashless operations and further deepens financial inclusion in Rwanda.
According to WorldRemit, remittances to mobile money accounts are “faster, lower-cost and more accessible” than transfers to bricks and mortar agents.
In line with this, WorldRemit’s data shows that Rwandans send more frequently to mobile money; 2.6 times a month to mobile money accounts, compared to just 1.4 transactions to offline locations.
Mobile money remittances are recognised as a key driver of financial inclusion.
“As part of WorldRemit’s commitment to help under-served communities, the company has launched a pioneering project, in partnership with UNHCR, to promote digital remittances to refugees living in Gihembe camp in Gicumbe districtd,” the statement from WorldRemit further noted.
Despite the presence of mobile telecom pay-out agents in the camp, there is currently very little awareness or usage of mobile money remittance providers, like WorldRemit.
The company began money transfers to Rwanda in 2012 and the rapid adoption of its service shows that customers appreciate the fast, secure and reliable services.
“We are committed to playing our part in Rwanda’s drive for financial inclusion, so that even the hardest-to-reach communities can experience the benefits of digitisation.” Andrew Stewart, Regional Head of Middle East and Africa, said in a statement.