Rwanda: MTN Mobile Money Hits Rwf590 Million

Digital Content

MTN Rwanda says that transactions through the mobile money service have reached Rwf590m, barely five months after the launch of the mobile operator's service that enable users to transfer money electronically with their phones without having to move location.

The service dubbed "MTN Mobile Money" was officially launched in February.

"People have shown interest in this service. The first impediment we are addressing is the cost of sending the money around the country," Albert Kinuma, the head of mobile money told Business Times on Thursday.

Sending money through the service attracts a fee of Rwf250 for any transaction between Rwf1,500 and Rwf300,000 for somebody registered while the transaction cost varies between Rwf600 to Rwf4,000 for somebody unregistered.

Rwanda's largest mobile operator by market share says within the first three months, the service has managed to attract about 83,000 users with at least 71,000 active mobile subscribers utilising the platform.

While response from the public has been positive, the biggest challenge remains the financial muscle of the dealers. The company says the success of the product largely depends on local entrepreneurs becoming partners and making the businesses grow.

"We have realised that in some instances agencies have been overwhelmed by the volumes and during the course of the day, one of the agents runs out of money," Kinuma observed.

So far, MTN has only 201 dealers countrywide of which 80 are around Kigali.

"What we are trying to achieve is having a network that anyone in Rwanda does not have to walk more than 5 kilometres to find an agent."

However, the official says MTN is continuously engaging the business community to increase investment into the business.

"It is something we are addressing and it is improving - we do not want to find ourselves in a situation where some agents might run out of money."

The product in which MTN Rwanda invested over $2 million, also allows users to buy airtime once they have registered for the service.

But according to Kinuma, there are other unexploited possibilities that the money transfer service can offer such as paying utility bills and salaries.

"The first service we started with was the ability to send and receive money across the country - because it is something very simple and easy to understand for everyone - as well as the ability to purchase airtime from your phone, for yourself and other person. The next step is cash power,"

Though the mobile money transfer service -the first of its kind in the country, MTN says it is taking advantage of their wide network coverage (over 90 percent) to enhance access to financial services.

"Our target was to achieve 130,000 users on the platform by the end of the year and we are already half way the mark and we should be achieving that in the next couple of months."Kinuma said.