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Ethiopian payment system operator Arifpay announced its integration with EthSwitch, Ethiopia’s National Payment Switch today, April 5, 2023. This strategic collaboration allows the fintech startup to deploy POS machines capable of accepting cards from any bank, promoting a more inclusive payment ecosystem in the country.

Although EthSwitch implemented interoperability for POS terminals over two years ago, allowing cardholders to purchase goods and services using POS devices from any bank, the initiative has yet to gain traction.

According to figures sourced from Arifpay, during the 2021–2022 period, the 11,000 POS machines in the country conducted approximately 2.4 million transactions, with only 360,000 of these being interbank transactions.

“Despite their interoperability, seeing several POS machines at one supermarket is still common,” said Melka Girma, Marketing and Partnerships Director at Arifpay.

“POS interoperability is an initiative that Ethiopian banks and EthSwitch kicked off. Now it’s our turn to promote its widespread adoption and use.” Melka added.

Arifpay expects the partnership to benefit customers, merchants, and banks by fostering financial inclusion and streamlining payment systems in Ethiopia. Additionally, this recent development allows Arifpay, which has been collaborating with banks to deploy POS machines, to independently distribute its devices to merchants.

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Bernard Laurendeau, CEO of Arifpay, emphasized the potential impact of the partnership, stating, “With the introduction of interoperable ArifPOS smart devices, Ethiopian consumers will have expanded options for everyday payments and will no longer be restricted to using their debit cards solely at ATMs.”

“EthSwitch is proud to be at the forefront of initiatives that promote interoperability, financial inclusion, and digital payments in Ethiopia, and we are excited to support the integration of Arifpay with EthSwitch,” said Yilebes Addis, CEO of EthSwitch.

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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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