DFI together with Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR) organised an event for DFI alumni and DFS professionals in Kigali on 1st November 2019. The topic for discussion was ‘The Power of Digital Platforms – Transforming Lives and Business.’
They keynote speaker was Shirley Mburu, associate from Bankable Frontiers Associates, a global consulting firm leveraging finance and technology to innovate solutions for a sustainable and equitable world. Shirley also moderated the panel discussion which featured Karanvir Singh, Founder & CEO of Yego Innovision Limited; Patrick Nsenga, CEO and Co-Founder of AC Group and Emile Kinuma, CEO and Co-Founder of Ushauri Consulting.
There is a drive in Rwanda for digitalisation, led from the Government also the Central Bank who are driving the move towards a cashless society along with a supportive approach to regulation for innovation. A Rwanda Payments system strategy – Towards a cashless Rwanda 2018-2024 was developed and launched. 
Platforms are a hub that allows multiple providers and consumers to connect, interact and transact. According to the World Economic Forum in 2018 there are 277 digital platforms operating across eight platforms in Africa. Examples include Jumia for online shopping, Upworks for freelance work, Uber for e-hailing or Airbnb for rentals. Platforms create a network effect, bring volume, value and efficiency. They are used by many globally, Amazon being one of the most successful. But the question we kept coming back to at our event was can platforms reach those at the bottom of the pyramid and can services/products be profitably provided to these clients.
Organisers and panelists gave short interviews also which captured the flavour of the event and gave us some local publicity:
#Rwanda is agressively building a digital economy. Various innovative products such as Mvend, Tap & Go, Yego, Move, MobiCash and other players such @AFRwanda @DFIdotorg @CentralBankRw are playing their role. The focus today is on opportunities in financial inclusion beyond access pic.twitter.com/nvoyeexDkU
— Taarifarwanda (@taarifarwanda) November 16, 2019
The panellists gave examples of products they have been working on which are reaching the low-income segment
- Karanvir’s product was launched to meet the needs of moto taxi drivers who do not have a credit history or access to formal finance to purchase their own bike, so have to pay high rental fees. Devices fitted to their bikes record the number of journeys and this data can be used 3 months later to formulate a credit score with the potential for loans and insurance and savings products so the driver can purchase their own bikes and increase their income
- Patrick has developed digital payment for public transport, which has 1.7 million active users. This has helped transport companies to gather data on transactions and to build credit ratings which can facilitate access to credit for expansion.
- Emile is contributing to the collection the healthcare premium via the mobile phone using USSD, through the MobiCash Platform which is licensed by the central bank as a Payment Services Provider.
The panelist’s recommendations in designing and delivering products for the low-income segment include:
- Build trust and acceptance through small payments and changes within the digital space
- Use appropriate technology – for example QR and NFC devices are greater in volume throughout Rwanda than POS devices
- Identify value-add products that can be delivered in conjunction
- When it comes to repayments, debit daily or weekly and not monthly if you are able
- Banks cannot have a physical branch presence in rural areas – agents can work better in this setting
- Incentivise your agents appropriately
- Fintechs, MNOs and Banks need to partner as they bring different elements such skills, infrastructure, and customer base
As part of the event, we also took the opportunity to celebrate those students who had passed either the Certificate in Digital Money or Leading Digital Money Markets course with DFI:
We also celebrated two special individuals, Robinson Mbae and Edmond Machengete (centre two), who are DFI’s 7th and 8th Certified Digital Finance Practitioners globally. They Both were working for Bank of Kigali at the time.
This has encouraged more practitioners in the Rwandan financial sector to register for the CDFP course with DFI. “If Robinson and Edmond can do it, we too can!”
Post by Jimmy Rutabingwa, CEO of IMAGINET Ltd and DFI’s Kigali COP Facilitator and Sarah Corley, Community and Professional Development Manager at DFI.