Are Rwandans ready to embrace cashless business?

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Rwanda's capital Kigali./Photo by AFP

In most of Kigali’s business outlets, a client paying for a product or service via Mobile Money is often required to add at least Rwf300/0.32 US Dollars considered as withdrawal charges.

Mobile money agents at Gishushu, Kigali./Photo by Emmanuel Kwizera

This they say has made cashless payments more expensive than paying cash over the counter and has led to reluctance by entrepreneurs to embrace the cashless payment system that the Government, through the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR), promotes.

According to The New Times, the local daily, this could also explain why despite the growth of mobile money penetration and transactions over the years, much of the money is cashed out or used for airtime purchases.

For instance, at least six million mobile transactions valued at Rwf2,058 billion/ US Dollars 2160.18 were carried out in the first half of 2019, according to BNR.

However, the same figures show, only 4 per cent of the sum was used to pay merchants for either goods or services.

With that, a large portion of mobile money transactions in Rwanda does not qualify as fully-fledged cashless payments.

A solution they say is to popularize pay bill numbers that allow business people to receive payment from clients without any extra charge.

However, very few establishments in Kigali and across the country have the provision; most of them are high-end establishments.

Small formal and informal business establishments across the city such as market vendors who have high number of transactions remain unaware of the provision.

MTN’s Chief Business and Corporate Affairs Officer, Chantal Kagame told The New Times that they are working to address the challenge to ensure the increase in the uptake of the paybill.

She said that already, the company has provisions for merchants to request to be included in the paybill system, which will allow their clients transact more easily.

She, however, noted that there is need for awareness on the paybill provisions to encourage uptake as well as to demystify perceptions of costs among merchants.

“Merchants need to know that they no longer need to ask their clients to add withdrawal charges,” she said.

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