Ethiopia - Country Commercial Guide
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Electronic commerce is in its infancy in Ethiopia and is rarely used.  Ethiopian banks use debit cards and automated teller machines (ATM) but have not begun to issue credit cards.  Most Ethiopians do not have credit cards and internet connections are slow, expensive, and unreliable. However, internet service has recently improved as a result of Ethiopia’s connection to Seacom’s underground/sea fiberoptic cable through Djibouti and electronic transactions and electronic receipts and invoices were legalized in 2020.

ATMs are interconnected with international banking networks.  International ATM cardholders can withdraw funds from any ATM machine of the 38 commercial banks operating in Ethiopia.  ET Switch S.C., a share company owned by the commercial banks, was created to improve bank-to-bank integration.  According to sources at ET Switch S.C., the service is used by over 10 million ATM card holders across the country.

In 2021, Ethio Telecom, a publicly owned telecom and internet services providing company, launched an online payment application called Telebirr. Telebirr allows users to deposit cash, send money, receive payments, and withdraw cash. Customers can also use Telebirr to buy airtime and packages, pay with Telebirr for utilities and traffic penalties; buy airtime; and pay for merchants. After two years of operations, Telebirr registered 34 million users and transacted over $12 billion.  In 2023, Safricom’s m-pesa mobile money application also became available in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian banks conduct transactions through mobile, internet, and card banking services. These technologies followed the launch of centralized, online real-time, electronic banking solutions that have increased customers.  There is still a long way to go to improve the digital financial services delivery system.  Currently, foreign firms are engaged as technology service providers for various financial inclusion projects of the GOE.