Technology Transforming Traditional Payment Systems

Three years back Ethiopia pioneered one stop facility for payment of utility bills with the aim to improve payment systems. Now the government has included traffic penalty as well as Television service payment into the unified payment system.

With the initiative to give efficient and quick service traffic penalty as well as Television service payment will be centralized. Television service payment is included with utility payment charging customers since they have bought their electronic box. These soon to be implemented system will increase government revenue. On the other hand the new traffic violation penalty that will be introduced in three months’ time is to register traffic regulation violations upon payment with the aim to change the global fame given to Ethiopia due to vehicle accidents.

The system changed the previous traditional payment system where customers used to visit several utility companies from different payment points. The system known as Lehulu, (for all), is powered by an Ethiopian company Kifiya Financial Technology Plc  said to be a first in Africa. The new unified billing system is automated. The system was designed by Global Communication Solutions, an Ethiopian IT company, and NCR and AT&T, its partners from US. The project was undertaken by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology in an agreement signed with these companies. Lehulu replaced former utility payment centers for Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCO), Ethio Telecom and Addis Ababa Water and Sewerage Authority (AAWSA).

Addis Ababa has over 2.1 million transactions each month and over 1.1 million bill paying customers and the new system is set to offer more convenience enabling customers to get services at all centers on extra hours including Saturdays. Expanding the service to state capitals, currently 58 centers operate in towns. The system will also be rolled out in some of the country’s major cities, including Mekelle, Bahir Dar, Awassa and Adama. Kifiya has also implemented financial service delivery to remote, rural areas without access to any financial services.

“The implementation of the project defiantly modernized the bill collection system of Ethiopia. This rather conscious decision of the state is meant to put the system well-organized. Clearly the successful implementation of the system is paving a way for e-commerce to allow the country to take advantage of it to support and even grow the Ethiopian economy.” Alexander Burtenshaw, Country Manager of Jovago Ethiopia said.

Such transformative emphasis on technology led to the introduction of 4G (fourth generation) mobile service offering a high speed link. The network offers much faster speed than the 3G which allows users to browse with speedy internet connection. As part of the $1.6 billion mega telecom projects to expand mobile infrastructure, 4G is serving 400,000 subscribers in the capital city. The brand new system has a monthly package ranging from $21 for 2 gigabytes to $180 for 30 gigabytes. A similar project also targets 60 million additional subscribers doubling the existing 3G capacity. This development is also a target for Kifiya to introduce mobile transfer systems particularly to remote places where there is no banking system.

By Eden Sahle

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