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According to Moneta Technologies SC Chief Executive Officer Yemiru Chanyalew, within 11 months of launching, Amole has registered over one million customers and enlisted more than agents.
This urban-focused, app-based push by Amole comes as digital services take root in Addis Ababa and larger cities. But because of low smartphone usage, unreliable service and low mobile money adoption, many of these providers rely on cash and text-based USSD technology for service. Hostile regulations have also been problematic at times for these service providers, one ongoing case being the lawsuit from RIDE, a taxi-hailing mobile service, against the Addis Ababa Transport Authority after they were denied the ability to offer transportation services despite utilizing legally mandated code 3 vehicles.
Due in large part to poor Internet services and restrictive laws, e-commerce has also struggled to coalesce into a mature business-run ecosystem, with Facebook pages and app channels offering a patchwork of commodities instead. Amole hopes that, as adoption increases, it may expand further into these areas. But whereas scarce infrastructure and poor network penetration have kept many fintech providers from capturing the vast rural populations — 80 to 85 percent of Ethiopia — one mobile money service is utilizing its unique structure there to its advantage.
M-Birr launched in , making it the first mobile money deployment in the market. Utilizing its access to rural networks through its regional MFI co-owners, M-Birr has paced the field in acquiring rural customers.
Its model has shown progress so far, reaching 1. But even given the aforementioned progress, improvements in infrastructure and a more enabling regulatory environment are needed before mobile money and fintech as an industry can truly take off in Ethiopia. A market reform-minded regime took over last year, so optimism on this front has grown.
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It also decided to sell shares of state monopolies like Ethiopian Airlines and Ethio-Telecom. That is not all. Just this month, the Ethiopian parliament approved a law to open up the telecommunications sector, selling off 30 to 40 percent of shares of Ethio Telecom to the private sector — including foreign bidders. The entry of such telco behemoths has the potential to greatly accelerate competition and overhaul the Ethiopian market. There is more hope in the coming years. But despite these promising signs, regulatory reforms have yet to take place.
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One of the biggest areas of service M-Birr sees potential in is the development of additional use cases for mobile money customers — like paying recurrent bills, for instance. Though Moss ICT has worked closely with financial institutions to introduce bill payment options, government-owned utilities must allow those payments to be made electronically.
Foreign remittances are another area only traditional banking services can operate in, with CBE Birr managing to launch the first Ethiopian international mobile money transfer service this year.