Rwanda: Mobile money services enjoy public confidence but fraud remains a threat, survey reveals

The first ever fact-finding survey on mobile money services in the country has revealed that Mobile Money payment and transfer enjoys a high level of trust among the general public at about 89 per cent.

Among other findings, the survey showed that in spite the high degree of satisfaction and trust the digital financial service is enjoying, there are existing challenges.

 The major challenges reported, were the network outages and liquidity shortages by agents and which took the lion’s share, with 51 per cent of those interviewed having experienced it at least once.

But despite network downtime being the leading challenge, the general public thought it is not the largest of concerns as 40 percent of the sample size said that fraud is the key challenge as it was getting more sophisticated.

Of the 40 per cent, 10 per cent reported being victims of fraud themselves with SMS messages and phone calls claiming that the user has won a lottery or some kind of giveaway being the common channels fraudster use.

The survey also showed that there is trust in person-to-person transactions but for more complex products like savings accounts and other huge cash settlements, 93 percent reported trusting cash, banks and SACCOs.

The findings were unveiled during a stakeholders’ workshop which was organized by the ACCION under their global campaign dubbed ‘the Smart campaign’ focusing on client first financial inclusion.

Officials who attended the workshop welcomed the survey citing that has come at the right time when the country is deliberating on several strategies to make financial inclusion effective.

According to Alexandra Rizzi, the Senior Director of the Smart campaign, this being the first survey ever conducted is stepping stone for both the policymakers and mobile network operators who are the biggest stakeholders to act accordingly.

“We want all stakeholders to understand the actual experiences and concerns of the clients they are serving, protecting or advocating for because there has not a comprehensive survey underpinning the conduct of this digital financial service before,” she said

Straton Habyarimana, Senior Programs Manager of Responsible Finance through Local leadership and Learning program at SEEP, said that the results from the survey are not alarming but also they attract solutions and profound policies to prevent them from escalating.

“We are happy that results are not severe if we compare them to other research findings in other countries but also policies have to be formulated to address those which showed red mark and prevent them getting out of hand,” he said.

The survey comes when the mobile money payment and transfer systems are celebrating more than a decade of existence.

The survey was carried out in three districts across the country namely Ngororero, Nyarugenge and Butare with a population sample of 1200 respondents.

Mobile Money subscribers in Rwanda stand at 11M from 9M  in 2017 with active subscribers estimated at about 4.6M. There are about 77,000 agents across the country. In 2018, the volume of money transacted via the platform was estimated at Rwf 1,808B.