Neway Beyene (left), board chairperson of Dashen Bank, stands with Asfaw Alemu (right), CEO, during the launch ceremony for the Bank's international e-commerce gateway on April 13, 2021.

Dashen Bank has kicked off international e-commerce gateway services with three major international cards, Visa, MasterCard and American Express. The gateway is a merchant service provided through an e-commerce application that authorises credit card or direct payment processing for e-business.

Very few businesses in Ethiopia are open to the international market, and those abroad do not have many options in the way of direct payment for services and products. The international payment gateway integrates local businesses to provide users, such as members of the diaspora, the option to pay for goods and services using credit cards issued where they reside.

Dashen acquired these international deals through the Amole e-commerce gateway, which was instituted through a strategic partnership between Amole and Visa. Dashen is responsible for payment facilitation and clearing and settlement processing, while Amole and Visa provide the technology.

Integrating the international payment gateway will help businesses in Ethiopia, especially the hospitality and travel industries, add convenience through their services online, according to Kassaye Eshetu, director of the Alternate Channels Department at Dashen Bank.

The platform is also expected to bolster the foreign currency flow in the country, which has long been a scarce resource.

"The foreign currency flowing through the proper and legal channels is the main thing," Kassaye told Fortune.

Experts, such as Israel Goytom, Chief Technology Officer of Chapa Financial Technology S.C., agree that the contribution to the forex flow is considerable.

"It'll have its impact on foreign currency flow to the country," said Israel.

Dashen eyes a partnership potential with 8,000 businesses across the country, given that they meet eligibility criteria set by the Bank. Hotels, tour and travel agencies, grocery stores and supermarkets are some of the services they plan to include in the venture.

Cnet Software Technologies Plc is one of the 8,000 eligible merchants and among the only two businesses that have so far reached the final stage of operationalising the gateway.

Established in 2004 with a registered capital of 13.5 million Br, Cnet provides total system solutions to a wide variety of businesses. The company mostly provides services of point of sale implementation for businesses across East Africa as well as e-commerce and hotel booking services for international customers. It is now preparing to offer direct payment for local transactions with Amole, and international transactions with Visa CyberSource, on their business-to-business commerce website.

Bemnet Demissie, a shareholder and managing director of Cnet, foresees that integrating the payment gateway with his company's payment management solution will bring transaction costs down and enhance convenience.

It has been a month since Cnet kicked off the pilot stage with some of its clients, the results are "good," according to Bemnet.

"We're only left with scaling up to launch the system fully," he told Fortune.

One bank acquiring various cards in one gateway creates flexibility for users, says Israel.

The transactions made through the gateway are authorised and regulated through the VisaNet global electronic payment network. The system incorporates fraud management mechanisms that automatically decline a transaction if it is made using high-risk domain email addresses. The gateway also automatically declines transactions that are made from countries labeled as risky for e-commerce transactions.

But companies remain skeptical about security issues to directly integrating with banks. Israel says banks should give priority to securing their core systems.

PUBLISHED ON Apr 17,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1094]

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