Ethio telecom is set to launch mobile money services following authorisation from the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE). Ethio Telecom and NBE have been in negotiations for the past year regarding the telco’s entry into mobile money sphere. NBE is the regulatory body tasked with oversight of the financial sector in Ethiopia.
In April this year, NBE announced it would allow non-financial institutions to offer mobile money services in a directive dubbed the Licensing & Authorization of Payment Instrument Issuers. The directive stipulated that mobile money services would require to use banks as trustees for the deposited funds.
According to Ethio Telecom CEO Frehiwot Tamiru, the telco will establish a new wing to handle the mobile money service. The segment will be regulated by NBE rather than the Ethiopian Communication Authority (ECA).
Tamiru added that foreign firms would not be allowed to engage in mobile money service at the moment pending formulation of policy guidelines. Currently, ECB will only allow Ethiopian nationals and Ethiopian diaspora to engage in financial services.
According to The Reporter, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) is seeking a strategic partner to acquire 40 percent of Ethio Telecom. Tamiru said that Ethio telecom is ready to lease the 7,213 mobile towers and 22,000 kilometres long optical fibre cable line to the international telecoms firms that will get the license to set shop in the country. She added that the government could earn USD 1.6-1.8 billion from the lease of telecom infrastructure.