When the Covid-19 pandemic first entered Rwanda in early 2020, the government responded swiftly with a raft of control measures including total lockdowns.
The limitation of movement directives, while necessary for public health, caused nearly all physical facilities, except financial institutions, to shut down, leading to widespread fear of a collapse of most remittance services.
However, WorldRemit’s unique value proposition of safe and reliable fully-digital cross border money transferring service stood out to bridge the gap through our leading mobile to mobile transfer platform, which ensured that Rwandans living abroad – like Gertrude Mukamusoni – were able to send money to their families at home.
Ms Mukamusoniwho has been living in the United States since 2016 after winning the green card lottery, has been a key pillar for her family in Gatsibo, a district in Rwanda’s Eastern Province, to whom she regularly sends money for upkeep and development.
Over the past five years, Ms Mukamusoni had tried different money transfer options, eventually choosing WorldRemit as her preferred global payment service provider, precisely for the app’s ability to send funds directly to mobile money wallets in Rwanda, but also for its fast, safe and secure delivery.
Indeed, Rwanda is one of the countries where WorldRemit pioneered its leading mobile-money transfer services, which rapidly took off thanks to the country’s accelerated mobile phone adoption.
With 107 cellular subscriptions for every 100 people, it is no wonder then that the value of funds transferred via mobile money grew by 450% in the first four months of the pandemic2.
A state directive to temporarily suspend transaction charges further increased activity in the mobile money transfer space, with the number of unique subscribers sending money virtually doubled to 1.2 million within a week of the first lockdown.
At WorldRemit, we also took the initiative to alleviate the situation further by reducing and sometimes even temporarily scrapping transaction charges for our international remittance services. These reduced prices have been sustained even as the COVID situation improves, as research shows that on average WorldRemit transactions are 25% more affordable than the marketplace,4 contributing to an affordable remittance space, a precursor to financial inclusion in developing countries.
Financial inclusion, as per the World Bank, means that individuals have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs ranging from transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance, among others. A recent Finscope study showed that 93% of Rwandans have been financially included since 2020 against a target of 95% by 2024.
From our perspective, the 95% target is achievable through the joint participation of all stakeholders, whether it be our business partners in telecommunication or in banking.
Fortunately, we work in an ecosystem of like-minded institutions, and together, we are actively working on developing technologies that will reduce the number of obstacles currently existing in a transaction’s lifecycle to effectively bring down the transaction charges.
In a world still going through a health crisis where most households are living on tight budgets, WorldRemit is expanding financial access options for the communities we serve, with the goal of keeping more money in the pockets of our valued customers through innovative, safe and secure technology.
Carine Umurerwa, Country Manager, Rwanda at WorldRemit