Ethiopia Launches Mobile Money Schemes to Extend Banking Reach
Thursday, February 5, 2015
Ethiopian banks and microfinance firms are launching mobile money services, helping reach swathes of the population that now have little access to branches or services, the mobile technology providers and banks said.
The launch of the services, which allow customers to make payments or receive money via a mobile that is linked to a bank account, mirrors technology used in other African nations that has drawn millions of people into the financial system.
Netherlands-based BelCash is offering a technology called helloCash, while MOSS ICT, mainly owned by an Ireland-based firm, is rolling out M-Birr in the nation of 96 million people.
In both cases, Ethiopian banks and institutions will offer the service to customers and hold the cash deposited, in line with government policy that bars foreign firms or banks from investing in the financial sector or the telecoms industry.
“One of the things that the government wants to do is ensure there is financial inclusion,” said MOSS ICT deputy general manager Kidist Negeye, adding M-Birr would help reach rural areas. “Another aspect is the mobilization of domestic savings. The government wants to increase the number of deposits.”
The central bank approved the roll out for M-Birr, which will be offered by five micro finance firms, in December. It already has 5,000 to 6,000 users and expects to add 13,000 in February. Kidist said the potential was “in the millions.”