In times when cashless transactions are encouraged as part of efforts to deter the spread of the New Coronavirus, even churches have had to become more innovative in terms of how they collect tithe and offerings.
It is in that light that BPR Atlas Mara and the Rwanda Union Mission (the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Rwanda) have partnered to unveil a Mo-Pay platform aimed at digitising the collection of tithes and offerings across the country in a bid to minimize a possible spread of COVID-19.
The initiative was launched on Thursday at the Adventist University of Central Africa (AUCA), Masoro in Gasabo district, during which it was revealed that the local bank will be facilitating and accepting the contribution of the believers through digital platforms.
Members of the church with smart phones will be able to download the Mo-Pay App and follow prompts to withdraw money from their bank accounts or Mobile Money, and immediately make a donation or pay their tenth to the church with no hassle.
Believers who are not connected to the internet will be able to use a special USSD code by dialing * 517 #, and following prompts to make their offertory or pay their tithe.
All Seventh Day Adventist churches in Rwanda are required to have an account with BPR, and will take their initiative to teach or show members how to make donations, all of which will be done at no cost for transacting or transferring the money.
BPR Managing Director Maurice K. Toroitich said that BPR Atlas Mara is delighted to be partnering with the Seventh Day Adventist Church to drive the cashless agenda and also to have members of the church as clients of the bank in what will be a win-win partnership.
Xavier Mugisha Shema, the Chief Business Officer of Banque Populaire Du Rwanda Plc, while explaining how the process will work said that the partnership is in line with the government efforts to promote cashless payments and minimise the use of cash, which could contribute to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“We hope this will benefit Rwandans, especially members of the church, who need to adapt to the new normal of supporting their churches, without using cash as the tradition has been. We hope this is a service other churches are ready to take on,”
“The Government of Rwanda is promoting the cashless agenda, ensuring that financial transactions are done digitally and at less cost for the consumer in order to encourage more people to use cashless ways to do things. Churches too shouldn’t be left out on this agenda,” Mugisha said.
Pastor Hesron Byilingiro, the head of the SDA Church in Rwanda, said that the world and the country in particular are moving fast towards digitizing services and using technology to do things differently and the church should not be the one to be left behind.
“In Rwanda we have seen that technology is increasingly becoming the way of doing things. There is no law that says that the church should remain conservative and not adopt the use of technology in what we do. I have never seen anywhere in the Bible where it is said that we should not make progress in terms of technology,” he said.
Pastor Byilingiro said that the SDA Church in Rwanda has adopted the Church Financial Management System (CFMS) which enables Adventists to receive income and expenditure reports easily and faster, as a way of the church being accountable to the members.
Though globally Adventists are known to be conservative in nature, Byilingiro said that church members need to adopt more the use of technology in their everyday lives in order not to be left behind, as it has been proved that digital transactions make it easy for the users to access and pay for services.
Pastor Byilingiro criticised those who misinterpreted the scripture to link the increased use of technology to end days or to Satan in order to mislead people into being careful with technology, saying that more effort should be directed towards showing people the good side of adopting technology to make life much easier.
The Head of the SDA church estimates that in Rwanda there are more than one million members of the Adventist Church and more than 8,500 churches scattered across the country.