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Payment for Govt Services Goes Digital

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia and MasterCard have partnered to enable payments through the government e-services portal, which will allow Ethiopians to access and pay for government services digitally for the first time.

The partnership involves the Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MINT), Mastercard, and Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE).

The collaboration is expected to support government’s wider digital transformation plan to modernize Ethiopia’s payment systems and foster a more financially inclusive ecosystem.

Accordingly, MasterCard integrates its Payment Gateway Services (MPGS) infrastructure to the CBE, which will enable payment collection on behalf of the government.

As part of the first phase, members of the Civil Society Organizations in Ethiopia will soon be able to pay for their operational licenses on the portal with any branded payment card.

This is the first of many use cases that will be offered through the portal, which will act as a one-stop gateway for citizens and organizations to access and pay for government services, officials say.

– Offers efficient option –

The integration of the e-services portal with MPGS follows the Memorandum of Understanding between MINT and MasterCard in 2020 to digitize payments and enhance service delivery to citizens in line with Ethiopia’s Digital Transformation Strategy known as ‘Digital Ethiopia 2025’.

“Our efforts will further relieve Ethiopia of the cost of cash and support our ambitious digital transformation strategy,” said Belete Molla, Minister of Innovation and Technology.

He said partnering with “trusted global companies like MasterCard” ensures that Ethiopia can develop an innovative payment infrastructure to facilitate digital interactions between the government and its citizens.

“We want to empower our citizens using innovative technology and offering a selection of digital payments options is a key part of achieving that goal,” the minister added.

It will also enable the country to provide a versatile digital payments solution – customers with any bank card can use it.

“That means people can pay conveniently and safely wherever they are and at any time,” Belete said. “It also enables us to improve revenue collection and achieve efficiencies—in turn, freeing up resources to improve service delivery.”

The launch of the latest service was announced in the same week officials at the Ministry of Finance and the US tech company, engaged in the global payments industry, met to discuss accelerating and digitizing payments in the transport and tourism sectors.

Mark Elliott, President of MasterCard’s Sub-Saharan Africa Division said, through the implementation of the digital payments platform, “we are collaborating to save resources, increase efficiencies, and deliver improved services to citizens.”

– A step to cash-lit society –

Historically, Ethiopians have been a heavy reliance on cash, with the majority of retail transactions taking place in cash. While seemingly inexpensive, cash comes at a high economic cost, which Mastercard estimates to be between 3.2% and 4.5% of GDP.

Only 35% of Ethiopian adults have accounts from a formal financial institution, according to a latest Global Findex Database.

Without access to financial services, experts many people are locked out of many economic activities and have very limited financial choices.

Digitizing payments can further support financial inclusion and deliver more sustainable and inclusive economic growth, officials say, adding that automation and digitization of government collections could become “a major driver in transitioning to a cash-lite society”.

Person to Government (P2G) and Business to Government (B2G) use cases such as enabling civil society payments will enable faster adoption, given these capture a number of high-frequency payments.

MasterCard is leveraging its technology, digital assets, and services to work with Ethiopia in achieving its digital transformation objectives.

This includes strengthening MasterCard’s innovative solutions and digital platforms to support and drive financial inclusion and promoting access to, and usage of electronic payments.

“We are deeply committed to supporting the government to achieve its Digital Ethiopia 2025 strategy,” said Elliott. “Through our partnership with MINT, we aim to create an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible.”

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