NBE Launches Ethiopia’s QR Code Standard to Boost Digital Payment

Ethiopia’s Central Bank has launched a unified Quick Response (QR) Code standard to facilitate digital marchant payment services.

The national QR code standard was introduced in the recent the Digital Payment Conference held by the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE).

The QR technology was democratized in the early 2000s but went on to prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ‘Scan to Pay’ system offers customers to pay merchants who offer QR codes using their mobile.

Its implementation in Ethiopia has been hampered by a lack of standards that enable interoperability among different QR code issuers.

The issue has now been resolved with the standardization of the QR codes by the Central Bank in partnership with EthSwitch.

The standard, the NBE said this week, “makes the existing scattered QR code payments interoperable.”

Currently, there are 10 payment instrument issuers or system operators in the country along with 32 banks and 48 microfinance institutions.

The standard will be applicable to all financial institutions that are either offering or intend to issue peer-to-merchant QR code to their customers.

“The aim is to increase the acceptance of digital payments at merchant sites” by making transactions “more secure, convenient, and efficient,” the NBE said.

Merchants can now have QR codes that contain their details as well as the unique identifiers of payment service providers.

By scanning this QR Code through mobile apps, their Customers can also make payments regardless of having a different bank or wallets.

This interoperability comes amid the growing adoption and usage of mobile money in the country.

Mobile money accounts increased by 60.0% and reached 69.6 million mobile accounts in June 2023, against 43.5 million a year before.

In the same period, payments worth more than 4.7 trillion Birr were processed digitally, almost three times the value recorded in the preceding year, per NBE.

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