Visa is planning to persuade the government of Ethiopia to ease tougher regulations against banks to strengthen the use of electronic payments in the country.

Visa, which is currently testing Ethiopia’s first international debit card, said that the government should lift the restrictions on overseas banks, which was enforced to safeguard domestic lenders and local debit cards.

Ethiopia is one of fastest-growing economies in Africa; however, few people out of 90 million Ethiopians have bank accounts and the range of services is limited.

Visa manager for southern and east Africa Jabu Basopo was quoted by Reuters as saying that the focus was on persuading leaders of the $43bn economy, dominated by state enterprises, about the benefits of electronic payments.

"They have agreed to a pilot for international cards. It is a very controlled environment."

"If you look at the main efficiencies brought by electronic payments … more money stays in the banks and the banks are able to lend that money back to retailers to do more business," Basopo concluded.

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Visa, one of the largest credit and debit card company in the world, has 10 Ethiopian banks as members. It first entered the country in 2004.