The National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) has granted Safaricom the licence to launch M-Pesa Mobile Financial Services in the country. This marks the first time that a foreign investor has been granted a mobile money license in Ethiopia, indicating a shift towards digital financial services as a means of promoting financial innovation and inclusion in the country.
For this license, Safaricom and its partners paid Ksh18.9 billion as licence fees to the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE).
Safaricom expects to roll out its mobile money services in the country sometime this year. The issuance of the mobile money license is a reflection of the Ethiopia’s commitment to fostering innovation and inclusion in its financial system. With the support of the NBE, the range of digital finance offerings, including mobile banking, mobile wallets, internet banking, and card banking, has expanded rapidly in recent years, demonstrating a strong demand for these services among the Ethiopian public.
Peter Ndegwa, Safaricom PLC CEO said: “We are excited that this is a great milestone following our entry into Ethiopia. This positions us to provide essential financial services to the Ethiopian population. We are looking forward to launch and roll out the service over the next few months.”
The NBE’s objective is to deepen Ethiopia’s digital finance ecosystem by supporting the spread of digital payment systems as a substitute for cash-based transactions. Additionally, the introduction of diverse forms of digital financial services will become a tool to help citizens transact, save, borrow, invest, and more as Ethiopia’s financial system is modernized over the coming years.
Safaricom’s M-PESA service has a proven track record in Kenya, where it was launched in 2007, and has since become the most widely used mobile money service in the country. The service has over 30 million active users who transact, save or borrow money through their mobile phones.
“Since the commercial launch in October, the brand is visible, deeply rooted in the Ethiopia and quickly becoming in every sense fabric of the society. The potential for Ethiopia is immense and we look forward to the future with optimism and excitement,” added Peter Ndegwa.
Growth in Ethiopia
Safaricom has seen impressive growth in Ethiopia having added 3 million customers and built a distributor network of over 114 outlets since its launch last October. With a population of over 120 Million, Ethiopia looks lucrative for Safaricom going forward.