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The National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), the regulatory body of financial institutions, is going to issue a new directive in the coming weeks for the functioning of mobile banking.

Before the approval of the new banking product regulation officials of NBE and presidents of banks’ had final discussions about the draft regulation on Friday June 15 at NBE headquarters.

According to sources, two months ago the central bank circulated the draft regulation for all banks to comment on the regulation. “The new directive is expected to be issued three weeks from today,” sources said.

Although many articles make up the new draft regulation security issues, the manner in which mobile banking is implemented, identifying users, protecting users and how much money can be transacted are the major areas the new regulation address.

Currently, Zemen, an innovative financial firm operating from a single branch, is the only bank awaiting the go-ahead to provide functional mobile banking service in Ethiopia.

A few months ago Zemen, one of the youngest financial institutions, with its new and automated banking service, submitted an application to the central bank to become the first to provide mobile banking services in the country.

“We plan to commence the new banking production in the coming month as soon as NBE approves the new directive,” Ermias Eshetu, Vice President of Marketing of Zemen Bank told Capital.

Zemen has been working for two years to start the mobile banking service, which is common in in other Western and African countries.

According to Zemen’s plan, the new automated banking facility that will be named ‘Z Birr Mobile Banking’ will provide all mobile phone users the ability to send and receive money via their mobile phone. Recently, Helawi Tadesse, President of Zemen, said that the bank also plans to introduce international mobile banking services.

Mobile banking 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.

Currently, millions of domestic remittances are sent from one individual to another via bank transfers. “But it can be conducted more quickly, conveniently, and less expensively through the use of simple mobile phone devices,” Ermias said.