Central Bank Developing QR Code Standard to Boost Digital Payments

ADDIS ABABA – The National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) is developing a Quick Response (QR) code standard to boost digital payments interoperability.

The push to implement a standardized QR code system comes amid a significant increase in the utilization of mobile money.

The Scan to Pay technology that rose to prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic provides options for customers to make payments to retailers who offer QR codes.

Its use, however, is often hampered by a lack of technical standards that enable interoperability between different QR code deployments.

The National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) aims to resolve the issue with the adoption of a universal standard payment QR code.

On Thursday, the central bank hosted a meeting to review and consult on a standardization document for national digital payment QR codes.

The event – organized in partnership with Ethswitch – brought together key players in the banking and payment industries and engaged in “constructive dialogue”, per NBE.

“This initiative aims to streamline the consumer experience by focusing on reducing QR code clutter at merchant account, thereby simplifying transactions for businesses and customers,” the Central bank says.

The plan to standardize the QR code payment is expected to add impetus to the recent advance in digital payments.

According to data from the NBE, digital transactions grew threefold last year to more than 4.6 trillion Birr from 1.4 trillion Birr in the preceding year.

Currently, at least 10 payment instrument issuers operate in Ethiopia along with 32 banks and 48 microfinance institutions.