Ericsson signed a "breakthrough" mobile payments deal with the Rwandan government that it said will boost financial inclusion for the African country's citizens.
The deal with Rwanda's Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning covers the deployment of a national mobile financial service interoperability switch based on Ericsson's M-Commerce Interconnect product. In a statement, Ericsson explained that the switch will enable financial and payment service providers in the country to offer real-time payment transactions by connecting to a common platform.
Peter Heuman, VP and head of m-commerce at Ericsson, said the company's interconnection platform will boost the provision of mobile financial services in Rwanda by "seamlessly linking banks, mobile operators, money transfer organisations, and payment and financial services providers".
That interoperability will make "the promise of true financial inclusion achievable," Heuman added.
Countless studies have explained how Africa as a whole has a high proportion of unbanked citizens, and that mobile financial services offer an effective means of including those people in the broader financial market.
Vodafone's M-Pesa service offers a good example of how mobile financial services have evolved. While the service was originally conceived as a money-transfer system, the operator has since expanded the reach to include savings and loans, salary payments, and the ability pay utility bills or school fees.
Rwanda's minister of Finance and Economic Planning Claver Gatete said mobile payment technology "has the potential to advance financial inclusion and help people build savings while giving government, as well as the private sector, a more cost-effective, efficient, transparent and safer means of disbursing and collecting payments."
In addition to providing its interconnection platform, Ericsson said it will take the lead in terms of bringing Rwandan payment service providers and financial institutions on board.
Fredrik Jejdling, head of region Sub-Saharan Africa at Ericsson, noted that the partnership highlights how "collaboration between the public and private sector can transform the financial sector for the better."
The Rwanda deal also places the country "on track to becoming the first truly cashless society in Africa", Jejdling added.
- see this Ericsson announcement
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