Clients of Mobile Money (MoMo) and Airtel Money, the country’s money transaction services through mobile phones may have to find alternative ways of ensuring their money is passed on to next of kin in case of an untimely death or inability to use the mobile money account.
The service was first initiated in Rwanda nine years ago by MTN Rwanda, and was later on embraced by Airtel-Tigo.
According to officials the unclaimed money in these telecoms, are by regulation supposed to be declared by the service provider to the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR) after five years of the account’s innactivity.
“We have no idea about any recent transfer made by the telecoms. But, like in banks, after one year a mobile money account is considered dormant and after five years the service provider declares the money to central bank,” John Rwangombwa, the governor of central bank said.
According to Rwangombwa, one telecom company that he did not mention transferred Rwf850, 000 to BNR.
Rwangombwa says that in order to claim the money, the next of kin has to prove that they are legal beneficiaries of the money left behind on the account.
MTN Rwanda says that every month they record MoMo transaction worth Rwf150 billion made in transfers done by only 2.1 million MoMo users out the 3.9 million clients in the country, meaning that 1.8 million users either don’t have mobile money account or have not used it.
However, MTN Rwanda official in charge of MoMo, Arthur Rutagengwa says they have not been able to fully calculate the real amount of money on dormant accounts.
Rutagengwa noted; “It’s forbidden for any second person to acquire or possess ones passcode because it can create issues of cybercrimes and MoMo theft.”
This position by the service provider, has left some relatives of deceased users with totally no access to the money left on the accounts.
One MoMo client told KT Press on condition of anonymity, that he started claiming Rwf600,000 his brother left on the account four years ago, but he has now given up because he found the process too complicated.
“When we approached MTN, they told us to file a case to police and in court. This takes ages. We ended up dropping the case,” Twagirimana told KT Press.
The client said he was asked to file among others, death certificate, and documents from local government and police report to confirm that he was the next of kin.
The source says that if the deceased had left his passcode with the next of kin, as is the case with banking requirements, the family of the deceased would have easily withdrawn the funds for burial arrangements.
As a regulator Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) says that they can only come in if there is a case of breach of ICT regulations either by the service provider or theft by second party on the account.