The National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) has granted a mobile money service license to Safaricom Telecommunication Ethiopia to operate its MPESA mobile money service in the country. This marks the first time a foreign investor has been granted a mobile money license in Ethiopia.
In a statement, the NBE stated that the granting of the mobile money license reflects its ongoing commitment to promoting financial innovation and inclusion in the Ethiopian market. The bank acknowledged the increasing demand for mobile banking, mobile wallets, Internet banking, and card-banking services.
The bank also “welcomed the shift towards digital financial services, noting that it can bring greater efficiency, safety, and transparency to the country’s growing financial system”. It also expressed its strong support for the use of digital payment systems as an alternative to cash-based transactions within the economy.
Safaricom Ethiopia is owned by an international consortium, including Vodafone Group, Safaricom PLC, Vodacom Group, Sumitomo Corporation, and British International Investment (BII).
The company launched its mobile telecommunications network and services in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, in October 2022. It has since rolled out its voice, messaging, and data services in 22 cities and regions with 1,272 network sites.