The Future of Digital Lending in Ethiopia The traction that met Michu and Telebirr early on highlights the massive demand for uncollateralized digital credit in Ethiopia. New entrants such as Kacha Digital Financial services have also announced they’re eying the micro-credit market. The impending entrance of Safaricom’s M-PESA is undoubtedly going to have an impact, but the telecom operator must wait until the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) sets rules before it can enter the fray. Among the most significant recent developments in the digital lending sphere is credit cards. Awash Bank has announced it will start issuing credit cards to its clients in both secured and unsecured loan forms. Clients will be able to access as much as a few hundred thousand Birr in credit from the bank, with limits depending on the loan type. It is a significant milestone for the Ethiopian financial sector, and the development is likely to be followed up by even more big changes. Central bank regulators are working on a digital lending framework that will likely see micro-credit providers gain a step up in the financial sector. As it stands, mobile money providers are the only non-traditional financial institutions allowed to engage in micro-credit service but are still required to partner with banks or MFIs to access loanable funds. The central bank, however, has recently expressed intentions to allow fintechs to loan out funds sourced from entities other than banks or MFIs. Common practice in other countries indicates that these other sources are usually private equity firms, individuals or development institutions. This model is practiced in various countries across the globe. For instance, In Kenya, Digital Credit Providers (DCPs) were not regulated by the central bank until recently and sourced funds from various sources without having to disclose them to the central bank. Nonetheless, close to 300 DCPs have applied for licenses from the Kenyan central bank this year after regulators put out a call following a decision that compels lenders to disclose their source of funding. Ten of them have already been licensed. Development Financial Institutions, commercial banks, private equity firms and high-net-worth individuals are some of the popular sources of funding that Kenya-based DCPs use for lending. The implementation of various models of lending come with their own advantages and disadvantages. Here are the possible opportunities and threat that the Ethiopian market will experience as a result of the upcoming changes: Opportunities Encourages the development of new lending models such as peer-to-peer (P2P lending). Countries with advanced digital lending models have progressed to be able to offer a slew of innovative lending products. Diversifying the source of funds would allow creditors to experiment with innovative use cases based on their own risk appetite as they’ll be able to retain the risk on their own. Provides a more attractive business cases.