The National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) issued its first Fintech license to ArifPay. As a result, millions of customers have signed up for ArifPay within one week of its launch.

ArifPay runs an electronic payment platform aimed at Ethiopian traders, banks, and consumers. It enables people to make online payments, send money, pay taxes and place online bets. 

This is a welcomed development as bettors and bookmakers now predict huge growth as the Ethiopian government embraces technology. The digital economy is set to grow rapidly, and with it, the sports betting sector will too.

A Game-Changer

The move is a game-changer for the East African country’s betting and gaming industry. Following a lot of interest from stakeholders and investors, the Ethiopian gaming market is set to expand.

The Ethiopian government is promoting innovation by opening up the financial sector and embracing digital technology. To promote this plan of action, it issued a directive for applications.

There were strict requirements for applicants.

Arifpay put up 140 million birrs, equalling about US$ 2,805,600 in equity. Founder Habtamu Tadesse confirmed that thereafter, the company received the first Fintech license and that they were ready to start processing online payment services. The operator is set to be the pioneering payment gateway service in Ethiopia.

NBE Directive Offered 3 Options

Any company intending to provide online payments needs a license to conduct business. To accommodate various operators there were 3 options for payment system operators in the NBE directive.

  1. An applicant should have a paid-up capital of 300 million birrs.
  2. The paid-up capital must be 40 million birrs for a national switch operator.
  3. An automated teller machine operator needs paid-up capital of 20 million birrs.

By comparison, a point of sale (PoS) device operator needs 10 million birrs and a payment gateway operator needs 3 million birrs.

Arifpay’s application process took a year to finalize. The NBE looked at nationality, capital requirements and the applicant’s business plan, and whether the public would embrace the technology.

To meet the financial requirements, ArifPay collected paid-up capital of 140 million birrs with 42 shareholders.

Sports Betting Boost

The license is a significant development for sports betting in Ethiopia. It will allow stakeholders to plan a move from retail to mobile online betting in the future. This means that bettors no longer have to visit a land-based bookmaker. Instead, they can place online bets from the comfort of home or on the go.

Other African countries such as Kenya have followed similar paths, and the results have been positive. Online sports betting in Kenya has grown in popularity and the number of bettors increases all the time. This also gives more investors and private firms the opportunity and incentive to invest in the economy.

Ethiopia as a whole stands to benefit from the move to a digital economy, and online sports betting is certainly going to enjoy a welcome boost. 

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