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Visa makes headway in Rwanda business

KIGALI, Rwanda, Dec 13 – International payment services firm Visa is making headway in its efforts to spread cashless commerce across Africa, with Rwanda now set to reap the benefits from the expansion of electronic payment services to local consumers, businesses, and foreign tourists.

Under a 2011 Charter of Collaboration with the government of Rwanda, Visa agreed to lay the foundation for an electronic payment network, promote electronic payment innovation, fund and promote training programs around financial literacy in all sectors of society.

One year on, the ongoing success of the charter is expected to significantly increase economic growth, minimise risk and expand financial inclusion throughout the country.

The partnership is an alignment of Rwanda’s national objective to become a middle-income nation by 2020, and Visa’s plans to generate 50 percent of its revenue from markets outside the US by 2015.

The Charter of Collaboration defines a series of initiatives structured around three key areas identified as vital to the development of a fully-inclusive financial system in Rwanda.

Visa has worked with local banks, government, businesses and local consumers to rapidly advance Rwanda’s electronic payment capacity.

“A lot has been achieved in Rwanda in a year because of cooperation at all levels and common understanding of the benefits of moving to electronification,” Visa Group President, Asia Pacific, Central Europe, Middle East and Africa Elizabeth Buse said.

From a handful of ATMs in 2011, all Rwandan ATMs are now on track to be connected to the Visa Network, with 80 percent already underway or completed.

At the outset of the agreement, all Visa transactions in Rwanda were processed in US dollars through Visa’s international settlement service.

Now, a virtual instance of Visa’s global settlement engine, VisaNet, allows relevant transactions to be settled in Rwanda – synchronised to the local Rwandan calendar and work schedule and eliminating any potential foreign currency exchange rates loss – a local solution for the benefit of Rwandan consumers and the Rwandan economy.

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To cater for Rwanda’s unbanked and underserved, Visa launched a new local mobile phone service to meet their basic banking needs.

Visa also launched the Visa Rwanda Ubumenyi (Knowledge) Series -a year-long course for banks, government officials, regulators, law enforcement officials and financial institutions.

”Public Private Partnerships such as this are a stellar example of the positive impact when there is mutual understanding on how national needs can match commercial interest in a mutually constructive way,” Rwanda’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning John Rwangombwa said.

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