The Bank awaits a final approval from the central bank

Aug 3 , 2019

Bank of Abyssinia, one of the local private commercial banks, has become the latest company to launch a mobile payment platform, Enqu Pay.

Bank of Abyssinia, one of the local private commercial banks, has become the latest company to launch a mobile payment platform, Enqu Pay.

Developed by Ethio Electronic Kifya Plc at a cost of 5.8 million Br, Enqu Pay allows users to settle bill payments, buy airlines tickets and transfer money in addition to having a scan-to-pay feature. The application, which is also available as a web version, can be accessed in Amharic, Afan Oromo, Tigrigna and English.

The platform works for all government utility bills, according to Robel Worku, founder and general manager of Ethio Electronic Kifya, which undertook the project on the Bank's behalf in February 2018 after vying with two international vendors.

Piloted since December 2018, the platform has hosted a total of 38,000 transactions worth 20 million Br by 5,600 users. So far, Multichoice Ethiopia, a company that manages the satellite service DStv, has joined Enqu Pay. Zayride, a taxi-hailing company, and a sports betting website are in talks to join the platform for payment solutions.

Finished with the pilot of the platform, the Bank has submitted a detailed report on the results of the pilot and is waiting for approval from the National Bank of Ethiopia to get the final green light to officially launch the application.

During the pilot phase, financial institutions test their application in regards to compliance to predetermine business and technical requirements in a controlled environment without making any public promotion.

Ethio Electronic Kifya, which invested 5.8 million Br to develop the application, shares the ownership of the system with the Bank, which netted 562.8 million Br in the 2016/17 financial period.

Established four years ago with six employees and now employing 40 developers from India and Canada, Ethio Electronic Kifya is also working on an international version of Enqu pay, a separate application that will allow those abroad to transfer money as well as pay bills.

The first mobile-money service provider in the country, M-Birr, was established in 2013 by six microfinance institutions, Amhara, Dedebit, Oromia, Addis Credit & Saving Institution, Omo and Peace Microfinance. M-Birr was established following the central bank's 2012 proclamation, which allowed the use of mobile banking.

HelloCash was formed in 2015 by Belcash, Lion, Wegagen and Oromia Cooperative banks and the Somali Microfinance Institution. E-Genzeb, owned by Amest Santim General Business Plc, developed Commercial Bank of Ethiopia's CBE-Birr, Oromia International Bank's ORO-agent, United's Hibir-Wekil and Abay's Abay Bedeje, all of them individual payment platforms.

Alemseged Assefa, a former vice-governor of the National Bank of Ethiopia, said it is crucial for banks to enter the mobile banking sector.

The availability of mobile platforms and their ease of accessibility will create competition among the financial institutions, leading to better service, according to Alemseged.

"The platform should include various payment features from salary payments to school fees," suggested Alemseged.

PUBLISHED ON Aug 03,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1005]

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