The sole telecom operator in the country, ethio-telecom, aims to remove Ethiopia from the sleeping giants list in providing mobile money services.
Frehiwot Tamiru, CEO of ethio-telecom, stated during the inaugural ceremony of tele-birr at Friendship square on Tuesday that finding Ethiopia among the three African countries listed as sleeping giants in providing mobile money service and low efficiency in understanding mobile technology is embarrassing.
Hence, she announced, the company is working hard to remove Ethiopia from the list.
With persistent challenges such as limited infrastructure and a restrictive regulatory environment, the mobile money ecosystem in Ethiopia, as various reports indicate, is generally labeled as inactive or lower stage.
Having the potential of large amount of subscribers in terms of population size, Ethiopia has to use mobile money services as a contributor to financial inclusion; however, this could not be functional for a long time, said Frehiwot during the inaugural ceremony that featured Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) and other government officials.
Aiming to narrow the financial inclusion gap, tele-birr allows the telecom operator provide all financial services to all segments of society across the country.
Frehiwot highlighted that the company is working to increase financial inclusion by 25 to 30 percent and improve the overall national financial inclusion to 60 percent.
It was mentioned that in providing the mobile money service, ethio telecom’s major focus and efforts would be to provide financial services to low-income citizens and rural people who do not have access to banking services.
The company has recruited master agents and agents with more than 1,600 agents already on board. This number will increase to more than 15,000 within a year.
Customers can send money after registering via the application or dial the number and receive money via the mobile number sent from the sender. Furthermore, after registering for tele-birr service, customers can deposit into their tele-birr account at a nearby agent and the agent receiving the cash transfers the equivalent e-money to the customers tele-birr account.
On the other hand, users can have a linked bank account and transfer directly from their bank account to tele-birr, along with withdrawing cash from the service account at the nearby agent or the telecom’s shop.
According to the report by GSAM, the first mobile and agent banking directive in Ethiopia was issued in late December 2012, and the first mobile money deployment for cash and voucher assistance (CVA) programming was launched in mid-2015 under the Productive Safety Net Project (PSNP).