Visa-Rwanda Partnership to Drive e-Financial Services

Visa and the Government of Rwanda partnered on a Charter of Collaboration to develop localized solutions to extend access to financial services to local and international consumers throughout the country. The partnership is a step in the Government of Rwanda’s Vision 2020 plan, the country’s blueprint to become a middle-income nation within the coming decade, with per capita income of $1000 by 2020, up from $220 in 2000. The success of that plan relies on a number of pillars, including shifting to a knowledge-based economy, private sector development and improving infrastructure. The company’s aim to generate 50% of its revenue from markets outside of the United States by 2015 will partly be enabled through its ability to build, buy and deploy new technologies that extend its products to geographies where electronic payments are limited today, such as Rwanda.

Central Bank Says Remittances to Hit U.S.$103.1 Million

Rwandansabroad are expected to send more money home as the central bank projects projects remittances to increase by 4.9% from US$98.2m to US$103.1m as the economy recovers. Total remittances to Rwanda increased 5% to $US25.7m (Rwf15.3b) in the first quarter of 2011 compared to $US24.5m in the same period last year. The central bank expects the high remittance flows to have a strong influence on the stability of the Rwandan franc vis-a-vis regional currencies. While most of the remittances are invested in housing and financing small projects in the country, they also constitute a key source of liquidity needed to stabilise the local banking industry and contribute to economic stability.

Cyber Monday Online Spending to Top $700MM

Today is projected to be the heaviest online spending day on record with sales expected to top $700 million. Top retailers have plugged into the action by running special promotions such as Wal-Mart’s “Cyber Week” and Macy’s “web-busters.” comScore says e-commerce spending on “Thanksgiving Day” rose 29% to $272 million and “Black Friday” increased 22% to $531 million. The digital measurement service predicts “Cyber Monday” e-shopping this year will jump 16% from $608 million in 2006. comScore says more than $9.3 billion has been spent online during the season-to-date, 17% gain over last year. Meanwhile, Macy’s “web-busters” promotion is today offering free shipping on orders of $75 or more. The retailer is also featuring one-day-only “web-busters” plus nearly 80 other handpicked specials in all merchandise categories. Walmart today kicks-off “Cyber Monday” with five days of online specials offering significant savings. The giant retailer has nearly tripled the number of online specials this year since last year and is introducing a “daily featured item” each day this week. According to Forrester Research, online payments are predicted to top $33 billion this season, a 21% increase over the holidays in 2006. According to a Shop.org survey, conducted this weekend by BIGresearch, 72.0 million consumers plan to shop online from home or at work tomorrow, up from 60.7 million in 2006 and 59.0 million in 2005.

HOLIDAY E-SALES
2006 2007
Thanksgiving Day $210MM $272MM
Black Friday $430MM $531MM
Cyber Monday $608MM $701MM
Source: comScore

SIMTEL Deploys ACI’s BASE24-es

SIMTEL, an organization created by the Rwandan government to modernize the country’s national payments network, has deployed ACI’s “BASE24-es” to drive its core payments network, and ACI’s “Card Management System” for the management of card accounts and
personalization. ACI Card Management System software will enable the issuing and acquiring of debit cards. Most importantly, the payments network will reduce the amount of cash in circulation in Rwanda, a primary concern of the Rwandan government. Rwanda’s new payments infrastructure will initially support national VISA debit cards. A second phase will introduce the acceptance of international credit cards to help bolster a previously cash-only revenue stream from foreign visitors. It will also enhance the national card scheme and enable the use of pre-authorized debit cards, allowing the system to be used in environments where online authorization is not always possible. SIMTEL is owned by the National Bank of Rwanda and all six licensed
commercial banks in Rwanda, as well as the Savings, Union Bank and the
Post Office.

National Payments Network Selects ACI’s BASE24

SIMTEL, an organization set up by the Rwandan government to modernize the national payments network, has chosen ACI’s “BASE24-es” as the foundation for The Republic of Rwanda’s new national inter-bank card payments network. SIMTEL is also implementing the ACI Card Management System for the management of VISA “Smart Debit and Credit” card accounts and for card personalization. “BASE24-es” will enable SIMTEL to acquire, authenticate, route, switch and authorize card transactions on behalf of the commercial banks in Rwanda. BASE24-es is powered by an intelligent scripting engine that enables users to change the rules governing authentication and authorization without having to write new source code. SIMTEL is a privately owned company. Shareholders are made up of the National Bank of Rwanda (the Central Bank), and all six licensed commercial banks in Rwanda, as well as the Savings, Union Bank and the Post Office.