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Rwanda to start new cashless era after COVID-19

July 3, 2020

In June, over 20,000 taxi drivers in Kigali returned to the streets to ferry passengers after months without work. And now they will be using a new digital payment system where no paper money is accepted.

Rwanda mobile payments
Image: DW

Rwanda has implemented a green policy (Nat Strategy of Transformation, NST1) by venturing into a cashless and paperless economy by 2024. By this the country wants to trigger a mind shift and promote sustainable strategies (e.g. deforestation) in the long term.

In collaboration with Pascal Technologies, a local tech startup, the government is distributing 20,000 motor meters to all taxi drivers in Kigali for free. This is only possible because of the existing cashless infrastructure and new payment systems that have been put forward in Rwanda as a result of the coronavirus crisis. But Rwanda still faces a low uptake of digital and cashless payments as a result of a deep seated cultural mindset to hold paper money, access and education of the population.

During COVID-19 central bank mandated that cashless payments be made available with zero charges on all transfers between bank accounts and mobile wallets, zero charges on all mobile money transfers, zero fees on payments for point-of-sale transactions and an increase in the limit for individual transfers using mobile money wallets.

Rwanda has seen mobile money transactions grow by 450% in three months from 7.2 billion Rwandan francs to 40 billion from January- to-May 2020, according to a report by Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA). Rwanda's objective is to achieve 100% financial inclusion by 2024. 

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