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Experts Ponder On The Future Of Digital Finance In Rwanda

Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR) in collaboration with Digital Frontiers Institute (DFI) is engaging players in the financial sector to explore opportunities and role they can play in financial inclusion beyond access in Rwanda.

The two partners organized an event on Friday, November 1, at Serena Hotel in Kigali to engage players in a conversation on how financial institutions and FinTechs can profitably serve low income communities.

AFR Country Director, Waringa Kibe, said that the eco-system of the financial sector in Rwanda is quite well developed, with the banks being pro-active in expansion of agency banking on the the streets up to the smaller cities and also to the rural areas.

There is also growing and deepening of Mobile Money that has allowed people to transact and easily send money.

The country is also experiencing a growing expansion of FinTechs and other innovative products such as mobile wallets.

Different sectors such transport are also using digital platforms to facilitate transactions to build credit ratings for companies and individuals and develop good credit worthiness.

For example, Yego INNOVISION, a tech firm with an App from which private taxi drivers run their business, records each and every ride and based on that, the company is able to create a bulletin on their daily earning, weekly earning, monthly earning, how many hours they work in a week, kilometers that they drive.

“With that, we are able to create a credit score, then we are able to take the credit score to the bank and be able to provide that information to the bank, so the bank is willing to provide them finance,” says Karanvir Singh, the CEO of Yego.

Indeed, with a digital platform, such a company is able to get these people to pay back on a daily basis, which shows that there is a much higher rate of compliance.

“By being able to provide them credit scores, access to finance and help ensure payment back to the bank, we are building credibility for this entire industry,” Singh says.

Patrick Bucana, the CEO of AC Group, another tech firm facilitating smart transport with different products such as Tap & Go cards for passengers, says the firm has helped companies build a robust credit ratting and worthiness, good enough to facilitate access to financing for expansion.

“I think the infrastructure already exists, the question is how can we leverage it, how can other players leverage these platforms that already exist?” says Jimmy Rutabingwa, Co-Founder of Mvend LTd, a FinTech firm in Kigali.

“With such innovations in the market, be it with the banks or platform like ours, to be able to ensure that the friction is reduced, and cutting down the cost of transactions,” he says.

During the event at Serena, participants discussed how there is need to not only benefit from the existing investments, but there is also need to see how to bring down costs of and push to get more people who don’t have smart phones on other platforms.

“Solutions need to be created, taken into account like the fact that President Paul Kagame said that only 15% of the people have smart phones, how do we insure that there is no digital divide, and we bring the other 85% on board,” says Sarah Corley, Community and Professional Development Manager at DFI.

DFI has been providing expertise to Rwandan experts in the industry, dozens of members in the practice for digital finance frontiers, some from local banks such Bank of Kigali.

“Every quarter, we have meetings that we refer to as community practices, under these meetings we come and share information, we choose a topic of discussion,” says Rutabingwa.

These experts are trying to asess the relevance of digital platforms and if the are serving and transforming lives and businesses and the major question during the Friday breakfast meeting was; “are we able to profitably serve low income communities and see their lives and businesses transform.”

At the same time, organisers were celebrating students who were able to do two courses; certificate in digital money and the other in leading digital markets, and others students who have gone through the journey and are going to become certified digital finance practitioners.Graduates are sharpening their knowledge on the future of finance and how to embrace the advent of digital platforms to extend finacial services to the masses.

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