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Thunes partners with Ethiopia’s Ethio Telecom to power cross-border transfers

By Edlyn Cardoza

November 26, 2021

  • Africa
  • Cross Border Payments
  • Ethio Telecom
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Thunes, Ethio Telecom, telebirr, Africa, SingaporeThunes, a leading global payments platform, recently announced a partnership with ethio telecom, Ethiopia’s largest telecoms service operator. With access to Thunes’s network, telebirr will become the first mobile network operator-led money transfer service in Ethiopia and deliver a fast, transparent, and cost-effective money transfer experience to its customer base of over 11 million users.

This partnership enables users of ethio telecom’s mobile money platform, telebirr, to receive real-time cross-border payments from anywhere in the world via Thunes’ global partner network, which operates in 116 countries and over 70 currencies. This move will significantly expand and enhance international payments in Ethiopia.

“In Africa, mobile operators play a crucial role in driving innovation and adoption of financial services. So we are extremely delighted to collaborate with ethio telecom on this initiative and enable real-time payments into the Telebirr mobile money accounts. Ethiopian people rightfully expect payments to be fast, inclusive, and affordable, and through the power of our technology we hope to address the needs of consumers and businesses in this dynamic market,” said Sandra Yao, Senior Vice President, Africa, Thunes.

To date, over 11 million people in Ethiopia are using telebirr. The mobile money platform allows users to send and receive money, deposit or take out cash at appointed agents, receive cash from abroad, and pay bills to merchants. Over the last two decades, remittances to Ethiopia have increased substantially, jumping to 5.6 billion at the end of 2018/2019 from $233 million.

‘‘Today, our customers’ mobile phones are not just used to make phone calls and access the Internet. With telebirr, they’re also used to send, receive, and store money, alongside payments for goods, utilities, airtime and other empowering services. telebirr has been in the mobile money business to serve as an engine for financial inclusion and ensure availability, accessibility, affordability, and convenience of financial services to all Ethiopians. To date, we have transacted over 2.2 billion birr using our telebirr since its launch back in May 2021,” said Frehiwot Tamru, CEO of Ethio telecom.

“Moreover, our engagement with Thunes will enable our customers to easily receive any amount of International Remittance through telebirr. We believe this service will save time and cost for our customers. Ethio telecom, as one of the largest telecom operators in Africa with more than 59 million subscribers, will continue leveraging mobile money and other digital solutions to unlock opportunities to realize our country’s vision for a digital economy,’’ Tamru continued.

Recently, IBS Intelligence reported that UniTeller, an international cross-border and remittance payments processor based in the United States, has partnered with Singapore-based global payments network Thunes to expand its services in over 20 markets globally, including major emerging markets in Africa and the Asia Pacific. 

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