Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Phone banking provided by Zemen for first time in country

Zemen Bank, an innovative financial firm, is becoming the first bank to provide functional mobile banking service in Ethiopia.

Zemen that gives banking service with a single branch has been working for two years to start the mobile banking service, which is commonplace in the financial sector of the West.
The new automated banking facility that is called ‘Z Birr Mobile Banking’ will provide all mobile phone users the ability to send and receive money via their mobile phone.
According to Zemen officials, the full rollout of the mobile banking service is expected in the coming month.
“We are waiting for final approval from the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), the regulatory body of financial institutions,” Ermias Eshetu, vice president of marketing of Zemen told Capital.
According to the marketing head, NBE has already tested the functionality of the new banking technology.  
The service will allow anyone with a mobile phone the ability to create a cash balance on their phone by depositing funds at a nearby agent location.
When the new service is introduced it will include the announcement of an extensive agent network that will be working alongside the bank to provide cash-in/cash-out services for all mobile banking users.
“The millions of domestic remittances currently sent from one individual to another via bank transfers can be conducted more quickly, conveniently, and less expensively through the use of simple mobile phone devices,” the bank statement explained.    
According to Helawi Tadesse, senior vice president of Zemen, the bank also plans to introduce international mobile banking.
According to Ermias, in the initial stage when the bank introduces mobile banking, up to 20,000 birr will be allowed to be transferred within a day.
Zemen has also been accepted into VISA International’s worldwide network of banks when provides card acceptance services.
Beginning this month, all Zemen Bank ATMs (Automatic Tailor Machines) will be able to accept internationally issued VISA-branded. Currently, Zemen has 25 ATMs of its own and also provides services to its clients through 70 additional ATMs under the Q-Link network with Dashen Bank.
In addition with the two new services, Zemen has introduced pre-paid bank cards that can be used by individuals or businesses without opening a regular deposit account at the bank.
The pre-paid cards allow users to pre-load funds on a bank card; this pre-loaded card can then subsequently be used at ATMs to withdraw cash or at point of sale (POS) terminals to make purchases. Among the initial type of pre-paid cards that Zemen will promote in the coming week are gift cards, and employee salary/expense cards.
Pre-paid cards for gift cards or other purposes can be purchased from 100 birr to 50,000 birr.
In another news, Zemen Bank also announced  that it is sponsoring the first ever hot air balloon business in Ethiopia as part of a long-term advertising arrangement with Abyssinia Ballooning PLC, an Ethio-Dutch company that is set to make its inaugural flight from Addis Ababa’s Jan-Meda field.
The four-year sponsorship agreement between Zemen Bank and Abyssinia Ballooning will showcase the bank’s name and distinctive bull logo on the hot air balloon. The new company is a joint-venture established by Ahadu Beza (Eng) and Bram van Loosbroek, both from the Netherlands. With the financial support of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the PSI program, Abyssinia Ballooning will be providing unique hot-air balloon sight-seeing trips throughout Ethiopia using a 20 meter wide hot air balloon that can carry 12 people and fly up to 5500 meters above sea level.
Haile Gebreselasse, renowned athlete, has agreed to be Ambassador for Zemen. 
Last fiscal year, Zemen Bank recorded 84.7 million birr in net profits, which is close to double the level of the previous year, and equivalent to its earnings per share of 58 percent.
The bank’s gross profit was 121 million birr in the 2010/11 fiscal year based on an audited financial report. A year ago (2009/10 budget year), Zemen registered 41.8 million birr net profit, and profit earnings per share were 38.7 percent.
Zemen Bank attributes its exceptional financial and operational performance in part to its unique business model which relies mainly on a single branch whose activities are supplemented by multiple service points such as ATMs, Internet banking, foreign exchange bureaus, and banking kiosks.