Kifiya, Mastercard in deal to enable diaspora Ethiopians pay digitally for purchases in home country

Mastercard has partnered with Kifiya, a digital service provider, to introduce a digital solution meant to enable citizens pay for all bills in one location in Ethiopia. The partnership targets Ethiopians in the diaspora.

The digital solution, accessible on a PC and mobile devices, will further streamline the experience of paying for bills by letting citizens both within and outside the country to make immediate digital payments – a major benefit for Ethiopia, which has one of the highest population of citizens living outside the country.

According to the World Bank, inbound remittance flow to sub-Saharan Africa rewill impact millions ofels.

A recent study by Kifiya in US showed that majority of Africans in the diaspora would like to contribute to pay for household expenditure for loved ones back home.

This service offers a convenient, affordable, secure, simple, and digitally driven solution that enables families and friends abroad to pay for bills using their debit cards, credit cards, mobile wallets, or directly from their bank account from anywhere in the world.

The roll-out of the solution will comprise multiple phases, with Mastercard and Kifiya’s specifically focusing on the first phase involving utility payments. It will enable Ethiopian diaspora to pay for utility bills of friends, family and relatives facilitated by Mastercard’s secure international payment processing capability, Mastercard Gateway Services.

Kifiya and Mastercard will as part of phase two then move to include micro insurance payments, educational expenses, and international airtime to the platform. Once the Mastercard payment gateway is facilitated the local recipient will receive a text confirmation from Kifiya integrated payment platform and can pick up a hardcopy receipt at any of the Lehulu centres across the country and other agent locations.

“We are excited about launching a modern and global remit to pay platform. We are equally excited in launching the service in partnership with Mastercard with their aim of digitally including 100 million people by 2020 in Africa. We believe that such a service is the first of its kind and hopefully will create a new class of remittance solutions,” said Munir Duri, CEO, Kifiya Financial Technology. “It is a great step for an Ethiopian company to start the journey of providing digital payment services throughout Africa and that our collaboration begins with Mastercard is key.”

“There are currently approximately three million Ethiopians living outside of the country that assist family members back home to pay bills, which current money transfer services fail to adequately address because they are expensive and there is a lack of control as money is not directly paid towards the service provider in question,” says Chris Bwakira, VP and Area Business East, East Africa at Mastercard. “With this solution, family members living overseas will now be able to pay bills directly, with the peace of mind that comes from knowing the money is being used where intended.”

Bwakira adds that by implementing a solution that helps to digitise Ethiopia’s bill payment ecosystem, Mastercard and Kifiya are working to displace cash’s stronghold in Africa and make the monthly obligation of paying bills less of a burden and hazard by making the entire payment process digital, reducing transaction costs and removing risk.

Digitising the ecosystem will unlock potential to introduce other solutions in the future, including unified bill payments for amenities such as mobile phone services and travel visa applications. Ultimately, building stronger and safer cashless bill payments systems will empower citizens to focus on what is important to them by cutting down on the time they spend walking between locations to make payments, as well as eliminate the danger of paying bills using cash.

Importantly, it also speaks to the Ethiopian government’s goals of improving the lives of its citizens by providing them with access to convenient, safe and fast financial solutions – part of the country’s financial inclusion goals that feed into its overarching development goals of ending poverty, among others.

Making payments digital is a critical step in driving the inclusive growth in Ethiopia, because of its ability to financially empower even those who were previously excluded through easy-to-access and use solutions. “Through vital partnerships such as the one with Kifiya, Mastercard is dedicated to introducing these kinds of digital solutions that make a real difference in people’s lives,” concludes Bwakira.


Kifiya is a provider of digital financial services leveraging innovative technology to enable and provide digital payment, and digital financial services. It was established in February 2010 by ICT professionals with more than two decades of experience in Ethiopia.

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