According to, Anteneh Tsegaw – the Chief Technology Officer at SunTech Ethiopia, the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) has given SunPay the greenlight for its POS and Payment Gateway Operator License request.
Sunpay Solutions, a sister company of Sunshine Investment Group, has developed its own digital payment platform called “sunpay” to serve financial institutions, businesses, and individuals as a payment gateway and switch interface in Ethiopia. The company has established with an initial capital of 100 million Birr in 2021.
Based on the company’s website, Sunpay Solution S.C operates under the auspices of the National Bank of Ethiopia as a payment service operator, with licenses for POS operation and payment gateway operation.
The company aims to play a pivotal role in the national payment ecosystem: providing a value-driven digital platform linking financial institutions’ financial instruments.
What You Need To Know: Ethiopia’s Current Payment Industry Directives
As part of Ethiopia’s ongoing reform in the digital financial sector, the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) has issued two major directives on the payment system industry in 2020 – a significant step forward in Ethiopia’s financial services sector digital transformation.
In April 2020, NBE issued a Payment Instrument directive titled “Licensing and Authorization of Payment Instrument Issuers Directive No. ONPS/01/2020” which allows non-traditional financial institutions to engage in the business of issuing payment instruments.
Services that are traditionally fell in the banking service, such as cash-in and cash-out; local money transfer including domestic remittance, load to card or bank account, transfer to card or bank account, inward international remittance; domestic payments including bill payment services; and micro-saving, micro-credit, microinsurance, and pension products can now be provided by nonbank companies that fulfill the criteria under the Directive.
In August 2020, NBE issued yet another directive for Payment System Operators titled “Licensing and Authorization of Payment System Operators Directive No. ONPS/02/2020” which allows nonbank companies that fulfill the criteria under the directive to engage in payment system operating business.
Aman Assefa & Associates Law Office legal update monthly publication in 2020 put the difference between a payment system operator directive from payment instrument directive as follows.
‘A payment system operator owns, operates, and administers a payment system which used to settle the transfer of funds/financial transactions (the system includes the institutions, the people, the rules and procedures, standards, and the technology that make the financial transaction possible). Whereas, a payment instrument issuer is a person that issues tangible or intangible instruments, instruments that enable a person to make payments or transfer funds (these instruments include cards, cheques, e-money, etc.).’
NB: Based on the Law Office review of the above two directives, foreign investors are not allowed to engage in the payment system industry in Ethiopia – only Ethiopian nationals and foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin. However, it is noted that foreign investors can provide their technology platforms/services to operators, if and when the operators outsource their technology services.
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