Home Uncategorized Empowering Rwandans: Bridging Gaps Through Inclusive Banking Initiatives

Empowering Rwandans: Bridging Gaps Through Inclusive Banking Initiatives

by Dr. Diane Karusisi
4:16 pm

Bank of Kigali CEO Dr. Diane Karusisi. File Photo.

Rwanda has made significant strides in improving access to banking services, fostering economic participation and enhancing overall financial well-being. The most recent financial inclusion survey showed that 36% of adults in Rwanda were using services from licensed banks in 2020, up from 26% in 2016.

The next survey is slated this year, and we expect to see a significant increase in the number of Rwandan adults that are banked in 2024.  What were the drivers of banking inclusion in the past decade?

First, Government-led initiatives aimed at layering the foundation of a digital economy through improved infrastructure and increased internet connectivity have played a critical role. In addition, a supportive regulatory environment and efforts to improve financial literacy have enabled financial institutions to make financial services more accessible, especially for those in remote areas.

Second, banks invested heavily in technology by deploying modern core banking platforms enabling automated and real-time services and increasingly availing banking services on digital channels. Digital banking has taken central stage and has changed banking into something you do, not a place you go to. The COVID-19 pandemic added momentum to this trend by changing customer behavior for good and accelerating digital adoption.

Although banking inclusion has been trending positively, allowing people to use basic banking services, a lot more efforts should be deployed by banks to address relevance, cost and convenience for all. In fact, banking services today mainly cover checking accounts and payment services. Access to personalized advice, saving, credit and investment products to effectively manage finances and building wealth remains an aspiration for most people in Rwanda.

Think of the experience of buying fruits and vegetables at the Kimironko market. You get a wide variety of fresh produce, personalized advice, and sometimes, after care service from the market trader who delivers to your home and later calls to ask if the pineapple was as tasty as promised. Better still, think of the experience customers get when logging on to Spotify or Netflix.

Bank of Kigali is contributing to financial inclusion in Rwanda in many ways.

You are offered movies and music that directly match your taste, through an attractive and intuitive interface.
Should Rwandans expect a similar experience from their Bank? Our response at Bank of Kigali, is a resounding YES. Our vision is to enhance our clients’ digital banking experience, allowing anyone to transact, save, invest and borrow in just a few clicks.

In fact, Bank of Kigali was already able to streamline the account opening process which used to be strenuous and time-consuming. Facial recognition coupled with an artificial intelligence powered algorithm are now used to verify individuals’ identities remotely, eliminating the need for physical documentation and reducing the time required to open an account.

The Bank is exploring innovative credit scoring solutions that use behavioral data from alternative sources such as phone, social media and internet usage to facilitate access to credit.

To conclude, at Bank of Kigali we are confident that the next wave of banking technology leveraging data analytics and artificial intelligence will revolutionize financial inclusion in Rwanda. Our ambition is to provide personalized banking services to all, particularly the underserved segments in a cost- effective and secured manner.

This will enable people to save, borrow, invest in their future, unlock opportunities for economic transformation as well as improve the quality of life for all Rwandans.


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