Ethiopia’s central bank issued regulations allowing non-banks to offer basic financial services, opening the door for operator groups mulling entry to the country’s wireless market to potentially add mobile money to their portfolios.
The guidelines are effective today (1 April) and allow for non-financial services companies to offer a number of services core to standard mobile money platforms, with an additional option to collaborate with a traditional bank on more advanced services.
Under a standard licence, providers will be able to offer: cash-in and -out; domestic remittances; bill payments; retail payments; over the counter transactions; and inward international remittances.
Among the requirements are a minimum capital deposit of ETB50 million ($1.5 million), central bank approval of key product executives, a five year business plan, geographical rollout schedule and policies around security.
New services could be subject to a three-month pilot phase assessed by authorities.
National Bank of Ethiopia also set out transaction and balance limits reflective of the level of know-your-customer data collected on account holders.
Current mobile money services in the market are provided by large banks and micro-finance companies.
In its 2018 State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money, the GSMA pointed to Ethiopia as one of the three sleeping giants of the industry with potential for huge uptake given the right social and regulatory environment.
Companies indicating an interest in making a move include MTN Group, Orange and Vodacom Group.