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IrisGuard, a leading provider of iris-enabled payment systems, has announced a partnership with Ethiopian fintech firm Arifpay. The collaboration aims to implement IrisGuard’s EyePay Network in Ethiopia, enabling Ethiopians to access humanitarian and social protection assistance services using iris recognition technology.

The EyePay system, designed to assist various stakeholders, including UN agencies, NGOs, governments, and banks, provides a unified web portal interface that ensures social support payments reach their intended recipients.

According to Melka Girma, Marketing and Partnerships Director at Arifpay, social support and humanitarian recipients in Ethiopia will be onboarded onto the EyePay network. The system utilizes the uniqueness of the human iris to authenticate and process payment transactions. When receiving assistance, recipients will undergo iris scanning to verify their identity.

“Funds will be transferred using the Arifpay payment gateway until they reach their final distribution point. Meanwhile, the EyePay system will come with its own iris scanning devices, which will be deployed at touchpoint places such as NGOs and refugee camps, allowing for authentication of the last transactions,” Melka told Shega.

Melka adds that the integration is currently happening simultaneously with business onboarding.

IrisGuard, founded in 2001, is a pioneer of iris-enabled payment systems. The firm has worked with the likes of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to verify the disbursement of humanitarian cash assistance. The company also states that over 14 million beneficiaries, including refugees and citizens, process $1.3 billion in humanitarian aid value every year using the EyePay network.

It should be recalled that last week, The Washington Post reported that the U.S. government was suspending food aid to Ethiopia after an investigation uncovered a widespread scheme to steal donated food, involving the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Imad Malhas, Founder & Managing Director of IrisGuard, expressed his enthusiasm about the partnership: “Ethiopia’s innovative landscape is the perfect stage for our EyePay Network services. As part of our global expansion plans, we look forward to working with local partners who share our passion for innovation and expanding financial inclusion.”

Arifpay, licensed by the National Bank of Ethiopia, has been active in Ethiopia’s digital payment ecosystem through its innovative point-of-sale (POS) and payment gateway solutions.

“This solution will enable us to serve millions of unbanked people and support the Government’s ongoing efforts to digitize the economy at the highest level of accountability and transparency,” said Bernard Laurendeau, CEO of Arifpay.

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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.