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Arifpay Financial Technologies has announced the commercial launch of its digital financial products and services. The development, which was revealed today at the National Theater, follows months of pilot testing and inspection by the National Bank of Ethiopia after the fintech startup received its license a year ago.

Arifpay’s products included in the commercial launch, labeled Arifpay 1.0, were developed in-house and include products such as Arif Gateway, Arif Smart POS, and Arif Mobile POS.

Arifpay was granted a license to provide financial services as a Payment Gateway Operator and Point of Sale (POS)  Machine Operator. Combining the two, Arifpay aims to kickstart what it calls a “Digital Payment Infrastructure Revolution.”

Akofada (DFS Ethiopia)

Through its Payment Gateway Operator permit, Arifpay will process online payments including utility bills, airtime top-ups, eCommerce, and school fees, while its POS  Machine Operator permit will be used to facilitate in-store transactions using smartphones, POS, and QR payment terminals.

However, according to Bernard Laurendeau, CEO of Arifpay, the startup is focusing on its POS products for now.

“We are more focused on user adoption than tech adoption. We are in a position to market our API or other products. But the user has to exist first. We want to gradually grow with the adoption and release our products based on public reception,” Bernard told Shega.

Arifpay believes POS is the right product in Ethiopia to start the digital payment revolution. There are only 11,000 POS machines in the country, and one POS device only facilitates an average of 3 transactions per month.

By promoting the culture of accepting payments with Android-based Smart and Mobile POS devices, Arifpay says merchants will be able to increase their business by reducing the number of steps consumers take to complete their purchases.

Arifpay team during the commercial launch at National Theater on December 15, 2022

Arifpay will provide Smart POS machines that cost around 4000 birr, which are at least seven times cheaper than the POS machines used by banks.

In addition, Arifpay is deploying mPOS, a system that allows a tablet or smartphone to function as a cash register and connects customers, merchants, and banks.

Any smartphone or tablet can be transformed into an mPOS with a downloadable mobile app and card reader that connects to mobile devices.

The startup, which says it is following a bank-led model for digital payments, says it is targeting partnerships with financial institutions, hoping to capitalize on the network they have built.

“It makes more sense for us to work with banks, who have thousands of merchants, instead of going from shop to shop to onboard merchants,” said Bernard, who became CEO of Arifpay after replacing Habtamu Tadese, founder of Arifpay.

Arifpay also hopes to empower Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) across Ethiopia by creating and adding value to customers and unlocking new revenue streams.

SantimPay Financial Technologies, Chapa Financial Technologies, and SunPay Solutions, are some of the other new startups in Ethiopia’s flourishing fintech scene.

In addition, the opening of the sector to foreign players is also unfolding, which is expected to bring more innovation and competition to Ethiopia.

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Kaleab Girma, an Addis Ababa-based reporter and researcher, with over six years of experience in the field. He currently serves as Shega's Editor-in-Chief and specializes in reporting on small businesses, innovation, technology, and startups in Ethiopia.

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