Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your career to date.
I am experienced in card banking and other electronic payment systems, an industry I have been working in since 2010 at Dashen Bank, Premiere Switch Solutions (PSS), EthSwitch and now Maximus Infoware (India). At PSS I had worked as Head of Hardware Support Section and later went on to be the Manager within the E-Payment and Card Application Division. Thereafter, I was transferred to the Programme Management Office where I had been the Project Manager (Digital Payments) at EthSwitch. Currently I am the Senior Business Development Manager -Africa & Middle East at Maximus Infoware (India).
I was a technical evaluation committee team member for the procurement and implementation of an interoperable digital retail payments platform which had three big projects: Instant Payment System, National Payment Gateway and Shared Wallet & Digital Channels as well as an Instant Payment System (IPS) Project.
How did you come to work in Digital Financial Services or more specifically Instant and Inclusive Payment Systems (IIPS)?
I had joined Dashen Bank in 2010 and had an opportunity to work within the e-banking department which has given me a chance to understand how payment switch (Base24) technology works and I was able to grasp the knowledge to configure ATM and POS terminals from both the switch and the terminal sides.
Why have you chosen to participate in the IIPS programme?
The total banked population here in Ethiopia is about 35%, of which 4% hold debit cards and 0.3% hold credit cards, which is a shocking statistic when considering a population of nearly 120 million people. In Ethiopia only 12% of the population conduct digital payments, which implies that the vast majority of our citizens are unbanked, particularly those who live in rural areas and are economically poor. Availing formal financial services for the unbanked and underserved population will significantly improve the life of citizens and have its positive impact for Ethiopia at a macroeconomic level. To overcome these challenges and enable true inclusive financial services has always been an important mission and passion of mine. As a professional who is working in digital payments, I strongly believe that having a deeper knowledge of IIPS will help advance digital payments and inclusive digital finance in Ethiopia, which is why I chose to learn more about IIPS and enrol in the course.
How has your journey with DFI and the IIPS programme impacted your career?
During a technical evaluation process for the procurement and implementation of an interoperable digital retail payments platform, I had applied the technical knowledge that I had acquired through a journey with Digital Frontiers Institute (DFI) and the IIPS programme. With that, as a committee, we had achieved successful vendor selections among several potential international bidders. Now all the three projects are under implementation phase (projects: Instant Payment System, National Payment Gateway, Shared Wallet and Digital Channels). From the knowledge I have gained I have had the opportunity to become a technical evaluation committee member for evaluating supply, installation, deployment, testing, implementation and commissioning of end-to-end reconciliation solution for card transaction, ATM and other transactions. I have also had other opportunities such as leading and creating a technical proposal for implementing Visa Access Point (VAP) at EthSwitch.
How did you come to know DFI, and what have you enjoyed most about your interactions with us?
I came to know DFI in 2020 through the introduction of EthSwitch for the CIDM course. I have enjoyed the course materials, the coaches’ professionalism and discipline as well as the methodology that DFI followed in the provisioning of the courses.
What is it that motivates you to continue with the work you are doing?
Currently I am working in the digital payment space where I can see the latest technology around the world. Every single day I learn new things and that, to me, is the most important part and keeps me motivated.
What are your hopes for the future?
I hope the payment ecosystem will advance further. The digital transformation, which has been set by the Government of Ethiopia as part of Digital Ethiopia 2025 as well as the payment modernisation will be achieved in full-scale in the near future. I hope to see a completely different and digital payments landscape. As a professional working in the sector, I want to be part of this new landscape and be able to leave my footprints.
By Sebsibe Neja
Senior Business Development Manager -Africa & Middle East at Maximus Infoware (India
DFI Alumni and Community Member