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Gov’t Pledges to Fully Liberalise Mobile Money Market in a Year

May 11 , 2021



The mobile money market will be fully liberalised in a year, Ethiopia's federal government pledged today. Launching a mobile money platform of ethio telecom, Telebirr, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) expressed his administration's strong desire to open the industry to foreign operators.

The announcement comes just two weeks after Ethiopia received only two bids for two telecom licenses, even though 12 operators initially showed interest. The ban on foreign participation in the mobile money market discouraged operators from bidding for the two licences.

Only financial establishments, particularly banks and microfinance institutions, were allowed to provide mobile banking services up until last year. A directive by the central bank issued mid last year opened the sector to non-financial institutions, although it remains closed to foreign telecom operators.

The state-owned telecom giant capitalised on this and launched today its Telebirr mobile money services, joining the growing digital fin-tech industry.


Ethio telecom will enable more than 44 million customers to deposit, withdraw and transfer money using an app and a USSD code. To access the service, customers can just dial *127#.

The new mobile money platform is expected to disrupt the digital market, enabling customers to receive remittance, pay for various goods and services, as well as buy tickets for flights, cinemas and sports venues.

Contracted to the Chinese Huawei, the mobile platform has the capacity to process 100 transactions in a second.



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