Payment solutions provider BPC Banking Technologies has introduced a new SmartVista-based national payments system, called EthSwitch S.C., in Ethiopia.

The new offering will enable retail bank customers to withdraw cash via all the ATMs in the country. It will also allow users to make point-of-sale (POS) payments in any terminal and utilize cheque balancing.

As of today for the first time, all 17 of the nation’s retail banks are connected together via the unified payment system. Additionally, with SmartVista, smaller banks will be able to issue and acquire cards on their own and in addition benefit from outsourced processing, the company said.

EthSwitch CEO Ato Bizuneh Bekele said: "As a result of our relationship with BPC Banking Technologies, it became obvious that the new system, powered by SmartVista, that the Ethiopian financial ecosystem will find new levels of efficiency, availability and accessibility while also significantly reducing the levels of cash usage.

"Currently the system integrates over 1500 ATMS, over 13,000 POS-terminals, and 2.5 million cardholders all over the country. These numbers are expected to grow further due to the ease of use to Banks’ customers and hence the demand that the interoperability which just went operational will create.

"We aim to use this foundation to launch further e-Payment services so as to bring about greater financial inclusion to Ethiopia," Ato Bizuneh added.

BPC Banking Technologies managing director of Sub-Sahara Africa Daryl Berg said: "With the deployment of SmartVista, we are proud to help drive such a vital project for Ethiopia’s national economy.

"As of today for the first time all the retail banks in the country are switched to our single processing platform acting as the central core for payments in the country. With interoperability delivered for the first time this will see transaction volumes continue to grow benefiting, consumers, banks and merchants."