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March 31, 2004

ACI builds payment network oasis in Saharan desert

ACI Worldwide, a provider of software technologies for electronic payment systems for retail banking, is attempting to bring some semblance of order to war-torn Republic of Rwanda's national payments network.

By CBR Staff Writer

Omaha, Nebraska-based ACI won the Sub-Saharan client through SIMTEL, an organization set up by the Rwandan government to help rebuild the country’s crumbling financial and IT infrastructure.

SIMTEL has opted to implement ACI’s BASE24-es system as a framework for creating new national inter-bank payments network for credit card transactions. BASE24-es is best described as an intelligent scripting engine that allows users to change the rules governing authentication and authorization without having to write new source code.

SIMTEL is also implementing ACI’s Card Management System for the management and personalization of card accounts.

SIMTEL hopes the system will promote the use of cards to Rwanda’s mainly unbanked population of 8 million.

SIMTEL will work with Visa International to issue and manage pre-authorized debit cards that are compliant with Visa Horizon and VSDC (Visa Smart Debit Credit) chip standards.

Visa says the pre-authorized debit cards allow SIMTEL to offer card services to people without an established credit history where online authorization isn’t possible.

The implementation of the project will be handled by ACI’s full service office located in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Modernizing Rwanda’s payments infrastructure is only pertinent if people actually have money to spend. In a country of abject poverty – over 90% of the population earn a meager living through subsistence – IT initiatives that promote the consumer advantages of card payments must be carefully managed to avoid a spiral into debit, a point acknowledged by SIMTEL.

There will be a period of education for Rwandan card using consumers, said Roger Munyampenda, director general of SIMTEL in a statement.

Ultimately, getting their hands on a credit card services will be the least worry for most Rwandans at the moment. The country has been devastated by years of civil strife between its ethic groups which has already claimed millions of lives.

ACI is part of Transaction Systems Architects Inc, a $277m global concern that also owns two other companies: Insession Technologies (data movement and transaction processing infrastructure); and IntraNet Inc (financial payment and message processing solutions).

This article is based on material originally published by ComputerWire

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