Encouraged by the rapid growth of mobile money services like M-Pesa in Kenya, which processes over €29 billion worth of payments each year, M-Birr (Birr is Ethiopia’s currency) wants to achieve the same sort of ubiquity, bringing financial services to people who have never held a bank account in the process.
Increasing financial inclusion was one of the targets of M-Birr’s founders.
“There’s a huge unbanked population,” says Ethan Laub, head of marketing at MOSS ICT, the technology firm which supports the M-Birr service.
The government claims that 31% of the population have a bank account but industry experts reckon that figure is the result of multiple counting because one person may have two or third accounts.
“When it comes to borrowing money, many people don’t go to banks. They will often go to MFIs and local savings clubs. There is a perception, particularly in rural areas, that banks are for the rich. This makes it very hard for poor Ethiopians to participate in financial services,” says Laub.
Since its launch in 2015, M-Birr has built a network of more than 1.2 million users nationwide who deposit money at over 7,000 M-Birr locations. The service allows people to use their mobile phone to pay for groceries, fuel and various other daily services. Ethiopian Airlines and cable TV provider DSTV are among their partners. […] CONTINUE READING
M-Birr has released this promotional video when it was launched 3 years ago: