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VIDEO: Equity Bank Rwanda Expanding Rapidly Across The country, Brings Innovations To Disrupt The Market

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Before the end of July 2017, Equity Bank Rwanda will roll out a robust financial platform, which it believes will disrupt the market and provide a cutting edge for its penetration ambitions.

“We are actually rolling out soon a technology platform that will have the entire bank on the phone,” the Bank’s Managing Director, Hannington Namara told Taarifa on Tuesday evening at a gala dinner with clients in Muhanga District.

Namara said that all the bank’s services will now be offered through a phone; from payments to account opening to transfers, loans, borrowing airtime on the phone.

“All those services are like moving the entire bank. The services you would have gone to get from the bank, you will now get through your handset,” he said adding that, “we are in the process of talking to stakeholders including all the stakeholders and telecoms to ensure that it is enabled. So if you have a phone, you will have a bank on your handset.”

Namara had led his senior management team to Muhanga District where the bank has one of its biggest branches in the countryside.

The management is currently reconnecting its customers across the country, expressing gratitude for the hospitality from people towards its branches. “We are here to thank our customers, we call them members who have supported us in the beginning…we are proud that their support has resulted into the successes we have today as Equity Bank,” Namara said.

In presence also were provincial and district leaders, security and religious leaders. Clients were given opportunity to raise concerns directly to the Managing Director. Lowering interest rates, extending working hours, scraping off some bank charges and flexibility in loan conditions were among the request made.  

“We are afraid of taking loans, conditions are stringent. For example, one gets a loan and the bank demand a shorter period to service the loan, the next day you see is that two years collapse before even a project takes off and the bank wants you to begin paying,’ said Sylive Mutijima, one of the businessmen in Muhanga.

Another customer requested that the bank has tendencies to chop off fees or take funds from an overdraft. “We need assurance and security for our money,” the customer said.

Namara responded to the queries. He said that the bank has received  feedback about interest rates. He said the rate is determined by the money market and the central bank’s repo rate, which the bank has no control over. He however said that some loan products have been lowered to about 16%. As for overdrafts, he said it is wrong and such a scenario should not happen at all. “we are sorry, we will rectify the matter.”

Below is an interview with Namara after the gala.

Taarifa: Why is the bank going out to the customers across the country, and here you are at Muhanga?

Namara: I think it is an exciting time first of all to reconnect with Muhanga, we were last here five years ago when we opened up the branch but we have also seen a bit of hospitality from people in Muhanga towards us and our branch here. We are here today to say thank you very much to our customers, we call them members who have supported us in the beginning. We are proud that their support has resulted into the successes we have today as Equity Bank. So it was time to check in and thank our members and recommit to delivering better services, to bringing home innovation. We are in the process of preparing or piloting our technological program, which will soon be rolling out so it was good to meet customers and seek their feedback on our services so far, where we need to improve and where we need to be better and we got very good and insightful input from our customers. We wanted this to be a culture that we have feedback, so sessions with our customers and finding out how we are doing because the measurement of our performance is in the eyes of our customers. We cannot judge ourselves better; the customers and the market will judge us. We are here to engage and find out. There are investment opportunities here in Muhanga, we know it is a cash man area for business. So we wonder what more we can do. We got very exciting ideas from them.

Taarifa: You mentioned a robust tech evolution the bank to roll out soon. Can you break it down?

Namara: We are actually rolling out soon a technology platform that will have the entire bank on the phone. All the services you do with a phone from payments to account opening to transfers, to loans, and to borrowing airtime on the phone. All those services are like moving the entire bank. The services you would have gone to the bank will be your handset. And we are in the process of talking to stakeholders including all the stakeholders; telecom, to ensure that it is enabled. So if you have a phone, you will have a bank on your handset.

Taarifa: How will that experience be for both retail and enterprise?

Namara: The platform will mainly be for retail customers. But there is also a part for corporates who would mainly need Internet banking services, who can also access them through the phone if they so wish. But we know that those have structures they work in many of them would be office- bound. So the platform allows multiple payments for corporates institutions, organisations, including having the ability of paying from their bank account to mobile money beneficiaries. For example those who have construction sites know that there are casual labourers who do not have accounts. They can pay them through their mobile money accounts straightforward.

Taarifa: It has been five years, give us some numbers.

Namara: It has been five good years. And I think we probably broke even in 2014. Having opened just those three years before. We are now in profit making territory. Last year, we gave investors a good profit put online, about 2 billion. This year, we expect to do more we have customer base about 600000 customers. The balance sheet is well over a 100 billion. We have probably achieved market share about 7%. And we are in the league of the first five banks. So that shows us there is confidence for groom and growth in the market. It has been five years but good five years.

 

 

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Airtel Rwanda Partners With Canal+ To Ease Payment Of Subscription Fees Via Airtel Money

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Airtel Rwanda and Canal+ Rwanda have launched a partnership, enabling customers to easily make subscription payments.

The partnership announced at a joint press conference today provides clients of both CANAL+ and Airtel a simpler, instant and secure payments method using Airtel Money.

CANAL+ Rwanda is the subsidiary of CANAL+INTERNATIONAL, TV operator by satellite in Africa and present in over  25 African countries.

CANAL+ Rwanda have a trilingual package with 200 channels in French, Kinyarwanda and English and it offers accessible bouquet starting from 5,000 Francs with a distribution network throughout the country.

Speaking at the launch event, Airtel Rwanda Managing Director, Mr. Emmanuel Hamez said “We are delighted to launch this new service on our Airtel Money platform we welcome all Canal+ customers to enjoy the convenience and simplicity offered by Airtel Money both on the USSD as well as in the My Airtel App”.

The new service that was launched today comes on the heels of an ongoing Airtel Money campaign called Free P2P which enables all Airtel Money customers to send and receive any amount of money for FREE.

“Free P2P or Ohereza Amafaranga Ku Buntu was launched in June 2021 saw Airtel scrap all charges to send and receive money between customers, a major differentiator that positions Airtel Money to become the provider of choice when it comes to payment of good and services such Canal+ that we have launched today” added Hamez.

Canal+ Rwanda’s Managing Director, Madam Sophie TCHATCHOUA said “It gives me great pleasure to allow Canal+ client to renew their subscription with Airtel Money. The successful integration of our mutual services makes life easier for our beloved customers who can now recharge and seamlessly have their images back and all this can be done from the comfort of their home”.

To renew your subscription via Airtel Money, customers can simply dial the direct short code string *500*4*3*2*4*1# on either their smartphone on feature phone, input their 14 Digit of their decoder  number, select their preferred bouquet and make the payment which is recognized by the Canal+ billing system instantly.

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Hundreds Of Passengers Miss Flight In Uganda Due To Delayed COVID-19 Tests

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Hundreds of Ugandans have been left stranded at Entebbe International Airport by the Emirates Airways after the laboratory where they had taken their Covid-19 results delayed to return them on time.

In a Snapchat post by Ugandan socialite Sheila Gashumba, she ranted, ‘’When I tell Ugandans that Covid in Uganda is a business they say I have ‘kajanja’.

Now all Emirates passengers have missed their flights because Safari Lab sent Covid results at 2:45pm and Emirates closed its gate at 3pm.

The hospital said it couldn’t work on everyone in the short time.

Around 300 passengers missed their flight yet Safari Lab had made a total of UgSh75m since everyone had paid UGX 250,000 for the test.

In the video where all passengers were visibly angry and frustrated, they can be heard asking for what the solution is and who is going to pay for the tickets again now that those that they had paid for can no longer be used anymore.

Passengers expressed their frustration at the rot in the service.

“I experienced such thing in March as the officers in charge claimed that the gates were close at 1pm as the flight was at 3pm,” one twitter user said.

Some made jokes out of it and asked, if this was because of the US$10 tax that is in the process of being introduced and will be paid by anyone that leaves the country using the Entebbe International Airport.

Another twitter user @kasoxialex2000 asked, ‘’@UgandaCAA (Uganda Civil Aviation Authority), but seriously you guys when you move to some airports don’t you copy something? Why are we ever backwards??? Stop embarrassing us. Who will save Uganda’’
By press time there was no official communication from the Civil Aviation Authority, Safari Lab nor Emirates Airways.

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Kagame Tells Bankers, Banking Can’t Just Be “Service For Elites”

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Banking can’t just be a service for elites, President Paul Kagame has said.  He made the remarks while speaking at the 14th Annual Banking and Finance Conference in Nigeria that he attended virtually.

Running under the theme, ‘’Economic Recovery, Inclusion and Transformation: The Role of Banking and Finance’’, the two-day conference will aim at the need to reposition the Finance and Banking sector as a catalyst for Economic recovery, transformation and inclusive growth.

In his remarks, he noted how the Covid pandemic has affected every aspect of Africa’s economies but at the same time also presents an opportunity for African banks to play a leading role in making societies more resilient and more responsive to the needs of Africans.

‘’Whatever affects business, affects banking. Financial services are the engine of private sector development. Banks are crucial for allocating capital wisely and productively,’’ he further added.

President Kagame noted that, in order to stay competitive, there is need to keep integrating new technology into banking to increase financial inclusion and access as banking can’t just be a service of elites.

He also went ahead to reemphasize what he has always said when it comes to African states always depending on the West and other countries for support. ‘’Indeed, Africa has the resources to fund its own economic growth and reduce dependence on external resources,’’ he said.

Kagame also noted that the African Continental Free Trade Area is creating new opportunities for Pan African Trade and investment. ‘’Banks with continental reach, like several of the institutions represented here can lead the way in cementing economic integration.’’

As he concluded, he stated how the banking sector, more than any other, understands the importance of integrity and good customer service. ‘’Banking is ultimately about trust. We look to you to set the pace in this regard. Our role as governments is to maintain good enabling environments, protecting both shareholders and customers while allowing for innovation. We expect you to keep challenging us on this,’’ he said.

In attendance at the same conference was the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Edwin Emefiele who made a huge announcement.  He said, ‘’Central Bank, will, in the next twelve months be establishing the Nigerian International Financial Centre (NIFC). The NIFC will act as an international gateway for capital and investments, driven by technology and payment system infrastructure.’’

In Rwanda, current statistics show that even though there are still various challenges that continue to put women behind men when it comes to financial inclusion, the number of women who are currently banked have risen from 24% in 2016 to 34% in 2021.

This is according to a FinScope 2020 Gender thematic report on the state of women financial inclusion in Rwanda that was supported by Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR).

In one of the Focus Notes from Access to Finance Rwanda, farmers reported that women and men enjoy equal rights and treatment at specified two Financial institutions in the Focus note and therefore no special gender based treatment yet the outcomes of each groups are not equal.

At both Financial Institutions, women and youths are more likely to use loans to hire land farm as they lack access to land and they have been assisted by addressing some of the barriers that women and youth face in accessing loans.

The conference will therefore focus on how banking can be a service enjoyed by all Africans regardless of their financial strengths through making access to finance for development is an easy and smooth process.

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