Ethiopian mobile money service TeleBirr has now passed the 20 million subscriber mark. In fact the Xinhua agency reports that TeleBirr, a service designed and rolled out with help from Huawei, now boasts more than 21 million subscribers.
TeleBirr was launched by the state-owned operator Ethio Telecom in May 2021. As well as 21.14 million users (and rising) it boasts that TeleBirr-based transactions have reached 25.67 billion Ethiopian birr (just under US$492 million) integrating with 13 banks to transfer money from the banks to the platform.
There’s also the little matter of the many extensions to the service that now include the purchase of domestic flight tickets from Ethiopian Airlines, utility bill payments and penalty payments for drivers, supported by numerous agents and master agents and thousands of merchants.
In fact the latest TeleBirr innovation was announced last week. According to the Walta news service, Ethio Telecom and the National Lottery Administration (NLA) have signed an agreement to launch a digital lottery known as Admas. This digital lottery will use TeleBirr and short SMS services. It is hoped that, as well as being convenient for end users, the new system will reduce printing costs, enhance lottery accessibility, and save time for the NLA.
Ethio Telecom has made it clear that partnerships with other public and private organizations are planned. However, as we pointed out recently, a new operator, Safaricom Ethiopia, will enter the market in August and in April Ethiopia began changing its national payments law to clear the way for Safaricom to bring its popular M-Pesa service to the market. This will offer real competition to Ethio Telecom – and TeleBirr – for the very first time.