Ethiopians using computers or mobile devices for sports betting have a new, convenient way to pay. This comes after the National Bank of Ethiopia’s (NBE) Central Bank issued its first FinTech license to ArifPay.

This first mobile money service license issued to a private company is expected to cause something of a revolution. It’s set to change the way Ethiopians pay for goods and services such as online and mobile sports betting and gaming. The service already looks like it will enjoy massive support from the public, bookmakers, gaming industry investors, and other stakeholders. 

The first company in Ethiopia to receive a payment instrument issuer license was the government-owned Ethio Telecom, which runs a mobile money platform. Ethio Telecom received its license last year.

A Closer Look at ArifPay

ArifPay was incorporated with 140 million Birr in equity. Now, it’s on the way to becoming a pioneer gateway service provider and private payment system operator. The service’s electronic payment platform is designed for consumers, merchants, and banks.

Bettors can use the service on their mobile phones to make deposits for online sports betting in Ethiopia. They can also pay for goods online, send money to family and friends, pay taxes, and make invoices.

ArifPay founder and CEO Habtamu Tadesse confirmed that his company received a license from NBE. He explained that they were the first to apply for a license after the central bank issued the payment instrument directive last year. The directive allows non-banking organizations and mobile network operators to apply for licenses to offer mobile money services.

Tadesse added that his company needed to sort out obligatory issues to secure the license. The first issues were to secure the required capital and reassure the bank of investors’ nationalities. Other issues included addressing whether Ethiopians know enough about mobile payment technology and presenting the company’s business plan.

Those issues were sorted, and the company received payment system operator and gateway services licenses. The sum of the two was 13 million birrs, which was not enough to cover operations. The 42 shareholders and promoters of the company collected a paid-up capital of 140 million birrs.

The bank’s directive offers 4 different payment system operator options. Any person who wants to offer payment, processing, personalized payment cards, and point of sale machines must have a license. 

  • Applicants who apply for payment system operator licenses must have a paid-up capital of 300 million birrs. 
  • Applicants who apply for national switch operator and switch operator licenses must have a paid-up capital of 40 million birrs. 
  • Applicants who apply for ATM operator licenses must have a paid-up capital of 20 million birrs. Point of sale device operator license applicants must have a paid-up capital of 10 million birrs. 
  • Those who apply for a payment gateway operator license must have a paid-up capital of 3 million birrs. 

Move Towards Mobile Betting

Sports betting operators in Ethiopia have had a retail-centric approach. However, ArifPay and any other mobile payment services that receive licenses in the future can help change that. Online sports betting operators can change their approach to focus on mobile betting over the next few years. If they do that, they can expect to see an increase in the number of bettors who use their phones.

The shift will bring the Ethiopian online sports betting market in line with what’s happening in other African countries. For example, Kenya is seeing a large increase in the number of people who enjoy mobile sports betting. ArifPay’s license is a sign that the Ethiopian government is serious about welcoming technology and opening the digital economy.

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