Rwanda partners with MasterCard to increase financial inclusion to 90% by 2020

Rwanda has left its tragic past behind and is moving rapidly towards becoming a model state for Africa. Without the natural resources strength of countries like Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea or South Africa, the East African country has strengthened its economy since the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and is taking bold steps towards growth. In its latest move, the Government of Rwanda is collaborating with payments technology company MasterCard to fast-track the country’s move to include 90 percent of its citizens in the financial mainstream by 2020, seeing that a lot of people in the country and Africa as a whole, still lack access to financial services.

According to the World Bank’s Global Findex 2014, two billion people globally do not have access to formal financial services. In Rwanda, 42 percent of adults own a financial account, whether formal or informal. But by 2017, the country aims for 70 percent financial inclusion which should increase to 90 percent by 2020.

“We are confident that Rwanda’s partnership with MasterCard will be beneficial to the country and its citizens as we are implementing our vision of becoming a knowledge-based service-oriented economy. I believe this can only be achieved as we embrace the fourth industrial revolution,” said Francis Gatare CEO, Rwanda Development Board and Cabinet Member.

Gatare signed the partnership deal on behalf of the government while Raghu Malhotra, President of Middle East and Africa for MasterCard represented the payments company. The agreement will entail collaboration on several initiative solutions including the digitization of school fees and national healthcare claim payments, as well as provision of an online payment gateway for Rwanda Online. It also includes contributing to the creation of a common mobile banking platform and contributing to the effective management of spending activities across borders.

Malhotra remarked that the Government of Rwanda shares the commitment of MasterCard to realizing a world beyond cash. He added that the company’s global reach and local experience makes it a perfect partner to help Rwanda meet its Vision 2020 strategy.

“Rwanda is a key market in East Africa for MasterCard and today’s announcement marks an important milestone in driving financial inclusion, not just in the country but in the region and Africa as a whole,” he said on Thursday at the World Economic Forum on Africa holding in Kigali, Rwanda.

Building on the company’s approach to develop partnerships with governments, NGOs and local businesses, MasterCard and the Rwandan government will address common challenges faced by poor and often remote populations, such as the lack of formal identification and financial illiteracy.