The National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) issued a mobile money service license to Safaricom M-Pesa Mobile Financial Service PLC, a subsidiary of Safaricom Telecommunication Ethiopia PLC, making the company the first foreign investor to be granted the license in Ethiopia.
Anwar Soussa, CEO of Safaricom Ethiopia, stated: "We are delighted to receive the license to establish M-Pesa and start providing Mobile Financial Services to our customers. M-Pesa comes with a tested and proven track record of enabling financial inclusion in Africa, provides services to more than 51 million customers across seven countries in Africa with a safe, secure and affordable ways to send and receive money, top-up airtime, make bill payments, get short-term loans and much more. We would like to extend our gratitude to the Government of Ethiopia, Ministry of Finance, and the National Bank of Ethiopia for the support and guidance which will allow us to contribute our share to the efforts of the Government of Ethiopia fast tracking Digital Inclusion and promote innovation outlined in the Digital payments Strategy 2025."
The bank stated that the demand for digital finance offerings, such as mobile banking, mobile wallets, internet banking, and card banking, had grown rapidly in recent years with its support. Ethiopia opened the door for foreign investors to invest in mobile money services when it approved a new National Payment System Proclamation in December last year. The Proclamation, Proclamation No. 1281/2022, allows foreign investors to invest in payment services which are not classified as banking services. Accordingly, foreign nationals can invest as a payment instrument issuer or a payment systems operator in Ethiopia or establish a subsidiary which will be licensed as a payment instrument issuer or payment system operator. To engage in this business, foreign investors who fulfill the eligibility requirement are required to pay a minimum paid up capital ETB 50 million in its USD equivalent and an investment protection fee, USD 150 million.
NBE claimed that it would promote the adoption of digital payment systems as a viable alternative to cash-based transactions within the economy with a view to developing Ethiopia's digital finance ecosystem.
Source: NBE and Safaricom Ethiopia