Banks and micro-finance firms, located in Ethiopia, are set to launch mobile money services within the country. According to Netherlands-based company BelCash, the move is intended to assist individuals – who have little or access to banking services – to gain the ability to access these services.
BelCash is offering a technology called helloCash, while MOSS ICT, mainly owned by an Ireland-based firm, is rolling out M-Birr the nation. 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.
In a statement made to Reuters, “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 mobilisation of domestic savings. The government wants to increase the number of deposits.”
According to BelCash chief executive, Vince Diop: “BelCash’s helloCash service could have 2-3 million users this year and 10 million by 2017 or 2018.” In the statement, Diop added that BelCash would receive a fee for each transaction made.
Two of Ethiopia’s 16 private banks, Lion International Bank and Cooperative Bank of Oromia, as well as a micro-finance firm, have signed up for helloCash. Two more banks have yet to submit applications to the central bank, Diop revealed.