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Business: Ethiopia state telecom giant launches three digital financial services with Dashen Bank

The launching ceremony at Skylight hotel

By Getahun Tsegaye @GetahunTsegay12

Addis Abeba – State owned telecom giant, Ethio-Telecom, in collaboration with Dashen Bank, has on Friday launched three different digital finance services under the motto “Financial Service for All” aimed at benefiting users with digital financial services including money transactions. They are: Telebirr Mela, Tele birr Endekise, and Telebirr Kuteba (Sanduk).

Telebirr Mela is a credit service  that facilitates loans of up to 2,000 birr per day and up to 10,000 birr per month based on the history of a customer’s  money transaction in the bank; Tele birr Endekise is a system built to enable a customer to overdraft up to 2,000 birr per day with a service charge to a customer when their telebirr balance is depleted during attempts to purchase goods; whereas Telebirr Kuteba (Sanduk) is a program that enables a customer to save the least amount of money, starting from a penny, with or without interest. 

The launching, which was held at Skylight hotel in Addis Abeba, was attended by heavy weights including the Governor of the National Bank of Ethiopia, Yanager Dese (PhD), Minister of Planning and Development, Fitsum Asefa (PhD), President of Dashen Bank, Asfaw Alemu, and other high ranking government officials were present at the launch event.

Firehiwot Tamiru, Ethio-Telecom Chief Executive Officer, recalled the launch of Telebirr a year ago, and stated that against all odds, Ethio-telecom managed to register 2.2 million telebirr customers in just one year. “Telebirr has benefited our customers to ease their daily activities when it comes to paying bills online,” adding, “the app [telebirr] enables us to earn  $1 miliion from international remittance and connects us with 37 countries,” the CEO added.

However, Telebirr was designed only for users who have smartphones, which ignores the majority of Ethiopians – some 60% of the total population of Ethiopia, according to the CEO. “That’s why Ethio-telecom chose to work with Dashen Bank to implement this financial services for all regardless of what cell phone people have,” she added.

Yinager Dessie, the governor of Ethiopian National Bank, in his part, recalled that Ethiopia’s banks digital systems were traditional for far too long and the latest Ethio-telecom-Dashen Bank collaboration to digitize the sector was a magnificent achievement that will enhance the digital financial system to the next level. “The National Bank will render all inclusive support to any bank which it is willing to do intend to join such digital services,” he pledged.

Firehiwot strengthened Dr Yinager’s points by underscoring that all these digital financial programs were designed to benefit the “forgotten” sections of the society who don’t have reliable incomes. According to her, an artificial intelligence system will be launched simultaneously to access the credit score of any individual to borrow money from the said bank without any collateral loan to start their small business. “Because we target the destitute, the system will have a healthy economy in the country,” she added.  

In her concluding remarks, Firehiwot recalled that Ethio-telecom has now 67.2 million customers, and is the second largest telecom operator in Africa and stands 25th of 778 telecom operators in the world.

Asfaw Alemu, the president of Dashen Bank, in his part recalled the bank’s success in the past 25 years since it was founded. “Dashen Bank is delighted to work with Ethio-telecom to launch this digital financial system that will serve the whole community in Ethiopia regardless of their income,” adding, “our staffs have done all the necessary preparations to operate,” he said. AS

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