Safaricom M-Pesa Mobile Financial Service Plc, a subsidiary of Safaricom Telecommunication Ethiopia Plc, has been granted a payment instrument issuer license by the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE). This marks the first time a foreign investor has been granted a mobile money license in Ethiopia.
“The issuance of this license is in line with the NBE’s ongoing efforts to promote financial innovation and inclusion in the Ethiopian market. Over the years, NBE has supported the expansion of digital finance offerings such as mobile banking, mobile wallets, internet banking, and card banking, due to the strong public demand for such services. The shift towards digital financial services is expected to bring greater efficiency, safety, and transparency to Ethiopia’s rapidly growing financial system.” , said a statement shared by National Bank of Ethiopia.
In May 2021, the Ethiopian Communication Authority granted a full telecommunications license to the Global Partnership for Ethiopia consortium, which Safaricom leads, along with Vodafone, Vodacom, and Sumitomo Corporation. The group paid $850 million for the telecom license and has committed to investing $8.5 billion.
During a press conference today, the telecom operator revealed that it paid $150 million to secure the mobile money permit. The acquisition of this license comes at a time when momentum appears to be increasing in Ethiopia’s digital financial service sector.
Safaricom is set to launch its mobile money service soon, having indicated that it has completed preparations.