Rwanda’s Central Bank’s deputy governor, Soraya Hakuziyaremye, says creating an enabling environment for financial technology (fintech) has played a vital role in driving financial inclusion in the country.
She was speaking during a fireside chat themed ‘Innovation for Inclusion’ at the Global Fintech Fest, on September 5, in Mumbai, India.
Rwanda is positioning itself to be a fintech hub in the broader context of the Kigali International Financial Centre’s mission to transform Kigali into a regional financial hub capable of attracting foreign investments as well as encouraging the creation of highly skilled jobs in the sector.
ICT and the digital economy are the backbone of Rwanda’s economic development, Hakuziyaremye said while narrating how the Central Bank has had to put in place a regulatory framework that allows the growth of fintechs in Rwanda.
“We also worked on modernising our own infrastructure as a central bank to make it more digital such as having an integrated interbank payment system which started in 2011. We also created an enabling regulatory environment that allows non-banks to come into the space, which has allowed fintechs to flourish in the country,” she said.
Hakuziyaremye noted that the digitalisation of other services, including the land registry and credit reference bureau, has enabled Rwanda to adopt mobile money.
“Mobile money penetration has allowed us to increase financial inclusion, before mobile money was introduced, only 48 per cent of Rwandans had a bank account, and today we are at 77 per cent.”
“It also spurred the adoption of electronic payment, the volume of electronic payment transactions represented 0.3 per cent of GDP 12 years ago, this has grown to 112 per cent of our GDP,” she added.
“The same way mobile money transformed payments processes and digital lending, is the same opportunities we see in fintech…the three areas of competitiveness with which we launched the Kigali International Financial Centre; being a pan-African fintech hub, green finance, and impact investment, we are trying to attract many fintechs as possible not only to serve Rwanda but use the country as a gateway to Africa.”
However, she said there is still a challenge to ensuring that people go beyond digital payments and access funding and insurance products using digital solutions.
Rwanda adopted a five-year fintech strategy (2022–2027) of systematically and holistically supporting the fintech ecosystem in the country by being a testing ground and launchpad of fintech to test and expand their ideas in Rwanda.
There are 75 fintechs currently operating in Rwanda, with a majority operating in payments, clearing and settlement providers, deposit lending, insurance, savings, capital raising, and crypto assets sub-sectors.
The strategy aims to move Rwanda from its current position of 61st globally and 5th on the continent to the top 30 globally and 1st in Africa, by 2027.