How Ethiopia Grant First FinTech License, Aid the Betting Industry

The Central bank of the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) issued its first Fintech license to ArifPay. Interestingly this is a milestone achievement for the entire country after successfully issuing its first mobile money service license recently.

Consequently, this sees millions of customers registered within one week of its launch with the permit for ArifPay it is expected to see huge patronage. This will be a game-changer for Ethiopia’s betting and gaming industry that has continued to garner attention from stakeholders, investors, and bookmakers in the sports betting industry to leverage the market’s potentials. However, ArifPay paid up to 140 million birrs (about 30,000 USD).

The license will enable it to become a pioneer private payment system operator and Gateway service, provider. ArifPay was established to run an electronic payment platform designed for merchants, banks, and consumers in Ethiopia to transfer money to pay goods, loved ones, make invoices, or pay taxes.

Habtamu Tadesse

Habtamu Tadesse, founder, and CEO of ArifPay, confirmed to local media that the National Bank of Ethiopia had given the first Fintech license to his company. He added that the license permits help the company activate Payment systems operator and Gateway services. The ArifPay company started the licensing process as soon as the central bank issued a new directive on issuers of payment instruments, allowing non-banking organizations, mobile network operators, to offer mobile money services. The company was the first to apply for the license, and it had been almost a year since it applied; there were obligatory issues to be undertaken to secure the permit. The capital requirement and investors nationalities were the first two necessities that needed to be fulfilled.

The question of whether the society has the know-how about the technology is the other condition, along with presenting the company’s business plan. There are three to four payment system operator options issued in the directive. Any person other than a financial institution who intends to engage in the provision of payment, processing, personalization of payment cards and point of sale machines, among others, must be licensed by the central bank as a payment system operator. An applicant intending to be licensed as a payment system operator should have a paid-up capital of 300 million birrs. The paid-up capital must be 40 million birrs for a national switch operator and switch operator.

On the other hand, if it is an automated teller machine operator, a paid-up capital of 20 million birrs is needed. In comparison, it is 10 million birrs for a point of sale device operator and three million birr for a payment gateway operator. According to Habtamu, since ArifPay applied and secured licenses for the payment system operator and gateway services, the sum of the two reaches 13 million birr. However, this amount is not enough to run the business. Considering this, promoters of ArifPay collected a paid-up capital of 140 million birrs, having 42 shareholders, according to Habtamu.

As mentioned in the article, this issuance of the license for payment gateway in Ethiopia is an exciting development for existing sports betting companies to strategize from the retail-centric approach to mobile online betting in the next couple of years. This will create another dynamic to the market as operators will begin to experience an influx of bettors adjusting to online betting and gambling.

As the case has been in Kenya, which is experiencing substantial mobile betting enthusiasts, Ethiopia is opening up. It is a welcome development for the gambling ecosystem thanks to the government approach to open up the digital economy by embracing technology, allowing investors and private companies to invest in critical pillars of the country’s economy. Different industries are greatly going to benefit from this move by Ethiopia.

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