Mastercard and Commercial Bank of Ethiopia Collaborate to Transform Government Services

The Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MINT), Mastercard and the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia have partnered to enable payments through the government’s e-services portal, which will allow Ethiopians to digitally access and pay for government services for the first time. This supports the government’s broader digital transformation plan to modernize Ethiopia’s payment systems and foster a more financially inclusive ecosystem.

The partnership will see Mastercard integrate its Payment Gateway Services (MPGS) infrastructure with the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, which will enable the collection of payments on behalf of the government. As part of the first phase, members of the Civil Society Organization of 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 serve as a one-stop shop for citizens and organizations to access and pay for government services.

The integration of the e-services portal with MPGS follows the Memorandum of Understanding signed between MINT and Mastercard in 2020 to digitize payments and improve 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 money and support our ambitious digital transformation strategy. Partnering with trusted global companies like Mastercard allows us to develop innovative payment infrastructure to facilitate digital interactions between government and our citizens. We want to empower our citizens to use innovative technology and offering a selection of digital payment options is a key part of achieving this,” said His Excellency Belete Molla, Minister of Innovation and Technology.” Partnering with Mastercard allows us to provide a versatile digital payment solution – customers with any bank card can use it. This means people can easily and securely pay anywhere, anytime. It also allows us to improve revenue collection and achieve efficiencies, freeing up resources to improve service delivery. »

His Excellency Belete Molla, (left) and Shehryar Ali, Country Manager for Mastercard, East Africa

“By supporting the Ethiopian government in implementing an innovative and world-class digital payment platform, we are collaborating to save resources, increase efficiency and provide improved services to citizens. Soon, members of the civil society organization will no longer need to carry cash, walk long distances and queue at banks to pay for their licenses. Instead, they will be able to do so securely and conveniently online,” says Mark Elliott, Division President, Mastercard, Sub-Saharan Africa.

In Ethiopia, there has always been a high reliance on cash, with the majority of retail transactions taking place in cash. Although seemingly cheap, cash has a high economic cost, which Mastercard Estimates between 3.2% and 4.5% of GDP. According to latest global findex database, only 35% of Ethiopian adults have accounts with a formal financial institution. Without access to financial services, many people are excluded from many economic activities and have very limited financial choices. Digitizing payments can further promote financial inclusion and ensure more sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

Automation and digitization of government collections will accelerate Ethiopia’s transition to a cash-based society. Person-to-government (P2G) and business-to-government (B2G) use cases, such as enabling civil society payments, will enable faster adoption of digital payments, as it encompasses a number of high frequency payments.

Mastercard is leveraging its technology, digital assets and services to help Ethiopia achieve its digital transformation goals. This includes strengthening Mastercard’s innovative solutions and digital platforms to support and foster financial inclusion and promote access to and use of electronic payments. This further supports Mastercard’s goal of including 1 billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses in the digital economy by 2025.

“We are deeply committed to helping the government achieve its Digital Ethiopia 2025 strategy. 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” , says Elliott.

About Digital Ethiopia 2025

Digital Ethiopia is an initiative led by the Ethiopian government, aimed at leveraging digital opportunities and propelling Ethiopia into an innovative knowledge-based economy. Aligned with key national strategies such as the domestic economic reform agenda and 10-year development plan and international strategies such as the African Union continental digital transformation strategy. Digital Ethiopia presents a vision of the journey that Ethiopia must undertake to ensure that all citizens are digitally empowered and that the internet serves as a tool to build a thriving Ethiopian society.

Bringing together actors from government, private sector and development agencies, Digital Ethiopia identifies the fundamental cross-sectoral initiatives needed to unlock the country’s digital economy, as well as four priority strategic sectors that can leverage innovative and emerging technologies to lead the Ethiopia’s digital transformation.

Ashley C. Reynolds