Friday, 17 May 2013

Fingerprint banking launched


A MobiCash machine.
A new mobile banking product dubbed “MobiCash” a financial service that uses a fingerprint scanner to authenticate users, yesterday launched in Rwanda.

MobiCash is a universal payment solution that allows customers to open and access virtual bank accounts through which they can save their money, send or transfer money or make payments.

With MobiCash all monetary transactions can be done exclusively with the account owner’s fingerprint without the need of cash or any card.

The financial banking product, that seeks to bring financial services closer to the majority of the population, uses multi-factor authentication mechanisms, including Near Sound Data Transfer (NSDT), a sound-based mobile transaction technology, Near field communication (NFC) and voice biometrics technology.

The fingerprint reader recognises the identity of a person and interprets it according to bank account.

Speaking to The New Times yesterday after the launch, Patrick Gordon Ngabonziza, the group chief executive officer said the mobile banking service is flexible and customers can access their accounts through proximity agents where they can register to open up accounts, deposit, withdraw and transfer money.

“All shops will be provided with fingerprint readers. This assures the easy usage of fingerprint-banking.  When shopping, people will only need to leave their fingerprint to pay, without entering a code or giving a signature,” he explained.

Ngabonziza stated that the product penetration will be quick and smooth due to the country’s ICT infrastructure and complete biometric National Identification (ID) card, adding that, one’s account will be their ID number or phone number depending on their choice.

“This is a mobile money platform that seeks to serve the rural poor through microfinance institutions and retail agents, including supermarkets and drug shops. You can easily load, transfer, pay, give or retrieve cash from your phone with very simple and user friendly Interactive Voice Response (IVR) based services or through the MobiCash website.”

According to Ngabonziza, the product has already launched operations in Uganda, Burundi, South Africa and the company will soon open in Kenya and Tanzania.

He noted that within the next three years, they are targeting to create about 300,000 jobs in Rwanda, especially through agent banking model.

“Unlike many other mobile payment products on the market, MobiCash allows anyone to open a bank account without restrictions to mobile network, phone types or one method of authenticating account ownership. The product is simple to use, faster and completely secure. The sender and receiver only need to have an active and valid mobile number in order to avail the money transfer service,” Ngabonziza explained.

“We are going to embark on an awareness campaign to enable the public understand how the product operates so that they avoid sharing their pin numbers in order to keep their money safe.”

“Opening an account is free of charge and customers will be charged Rwf50 once a transaction is made.”

According to Hubert Ruzibiza, the acting head of the services department at Rwanda Development Board, the mobile transaction platform is a good initiative that will complement Rwanda’s goal of achieving a cashless economy.

“We are happy for this investment because it will create jobs for Rwandans and create financial solutions to people in remote areas,” he said.

Latest statistics from RURA indicate that out of 10.5 million Rwandans, 6,039,615 have access to a mobile phone representing 57.3 per cent of the population.


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