Ethiopia to reach the unbanked with new mobile moneyscheme


A huge part of the unbanked population in Ethiopia is set to benefit from mobile money services being launched by banks and micro finance firms and which let customers make payments, receive money via mobile phones that are linked to their bank account,.

Reuters reports that this is technology that is popular in a number of African nations.

Given that there is legislation preventing foreign firms from investing in the telecoms or financial sectors of the country, the Netherlands-based BelCash that offers helloCash, and MOSS ICT that offers M-Birr will engage services of banks to hold the cash for them.

mobile-money“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.”

 BelCash’s helloCash service and whih is served by Lion International Bank and Cooperative Bank of Oromia could have 2-3 million users this year and 10 million by 2017 or 2018.

 Ethiopia has about 1,500 ATM cash machines and just over 2,200 bank branches as of June, or one for every 40,000 people according to the Central Bank.