Ethiopia has relaxed rules for mobile banking and money transfers, opening up the market to all local businesses to encourage people to go cashless to control the spread of coronavirus.

The move will give companies, like state-run telecom monopoly Ethiotelecom, the opportunity to compete with banks.

Until now, only banks or other small financial institutions could offer such services, meaning that it was rare for people to do transactions via their mobile phones.

So for millions of Ethiopians – despite calls from authorities to stay at home and avoid congested spaces – a trip to the bank is still an indispensable part of life.

The vast majority of everyday transactions require the availability of cash.

The new regulations, announced by the country’s National Bank, come into effect immediately.

This comes as Ethiopia prepare to open up its telecom sector to domestic foreign and companies – part of a wave of state-wide reforms initiated by the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.


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