Ethio telecom to start international remittance through its mobile money platform Telebirr which is gaining a large number of customers since the launching of its service in May of this year. After integrating its system with its international partners, the state-owned telecom operator announced it customers now can then go to the nearest Telebirr agent either receive cash or transfer money to their bank account.
With the recently announced partnership with Thunes, Ethio-Telecom will have access to Thunes’s network. Telebirr will deliver a fast, transparent, and cost-effective money transfer experience to its over 11 million customers. Thunes is a B2B company that powers payments for the world’s fastest-growing businesses. Through a single, simple connection, consumers and businesses can send payments to – and get paid in – every corner of the world. Thunes currently supports 70+ currencies, enables payments to 116 countries, and helps to accept 285+ payment methods.
“Telebirr will mark a shift for Ethiopia, where the banking system is seen as inefficient with 19 commercial banks serving a population of about 115 million. To this end, within the coming five years about 50 percent of the total Ethiopian economy or 3.5 trillion birrs in transactions is expected to go through Telebirr.” Frehiwot Tamru, CEO of Ethio telecom
This partnership enables users of Ethio telecom’s mobile money platform, Telebirr, to receive real-time cross-border payments from anywhere in the world via Thunes’ global partner network, which operates in 116 countries and over 70 currencies. So far, Ethio telecom has 26,442 agents and integrated with nine local banks, who have been providing Telebirr services across the country. This move will significantly expand and enhance international payments in Ethiopia.
Telebirr is a mobile money service developed by Huawei. It took five months for Huawei to develop an end-to-end service that facilitates the delivery of cashless transactions. The platform deployed currently has the capacity of processing up to 100 transactions per second (TPS) and can be scaled up to 1000 TPS in the future according to Huawei. The service is accessible via SMS, USSD, and smartphone applications. Telebirr for ease of usability also works in five languages according to Capital Ethiopia
“Telebirr is a reliable, inclusive, easy transaction financial service, would help create a cashless society and transform the overall economy as it fosters national reform, the service adds a new financial dimension that enables fast transactions in the remote areas of the country.” Ethio-telecom CEO, Firehiwot Tamru
According to Ethio-telecom CEO, Firehiwot Tamru, the service allows users to send and receive money, deposit cash, pay bills, withdraw cash, fundraising, bulk disbursement using the Telebirr app, USSD, and SMS. She further explained that the service would enhance financial inclusiveness to the remote areas where other financial services could hardly be accessed. It also eases remittance services.
The service helps cut unnecessary expenses the nation incurs to issue paper money and enhances a healthy, fast, cheap, and easy cash flow, according to her. As to the CEO, researches show that mobile banking, specifically Telebirr, has a huge economic significance in Ethiopia by increasing financial inclusion by 25 to 30 percent. Telecom is working to transform the economic transaction to up to 40 to 50 percent in the next five years.
“In Africa, mobile operators play a crucial role in driving innovation and adoption of financial services. So we are extremely delighted to collaborate with Ethio telecom on this initiative and enable real-time payments into the Telebirr mobile money accounts. Ethiopian people rightfully expect payments to be fast, inclusive, and affordable, and through the power of our technology we hope to address the needs of consumers and businesses in this dynamic market,” said Sandra Yao, Senior Vice President, Africa, Thunes.
To date, over 11 million people in Ethiopia are using Telebirr. The mobile money platform allows users to send and receive money, deposit or take out cash at appointed agents, receive cash from abroad, and pay bills to merchants. Over the last two decades, remittances to Ethiopia have increased substantially, jumping to 5.6 billion at the end of 2018/2019 from $233 million.
‘‘Today, our customers’ mobile phones are not just used to make phone calls and access the Internet. With Telebirr, they’re also used to send, receive, and store money, alongside payments for goods, utilities, airtime, and other empowering services. Telebirr has been in the mobile money business to serve as an engine for financial inclusion and ensure availability, accessibility, affordability, and convenience of financial services to all Ethiopians. To date, we have transacted over 2.2 billion birrs using our Telebirr since its launch back in May 2021,” said Frehiwot Tamru, CEO of Ethio telecom.
“Moreover, our engagement with Thunes will enable our customers to easily receive any amount of International Remittance through Telebirr. We believe this service will save time and cost for our customers. Ethio telecom, as one of the largest telecom operators in Africa with more than 59 million subscribers, will continue leveraging mobile money and other digital solutions to unlock opportunities to realize our country’s vision for a digital economy,’’ Tamru continued.
Recently, IBS Intelligence reported that UniTeller, an international cross-border and remittance payments processor based in the United States, has partnered with Singapore-based global payments network Thunes to expand its services in over 20 markets globally, including major emerging markets in Africa and the Asia Pacific.