Ethiopia’s effort to stamp out counterfeiting by introducing new currency notes is pulling people who’ve never had a bank account into the financial system.
Over the past four weeks, almost 1 million previously unbanked Ethiopians have handed in their two-decade-old banknotes, according to the Central Bank. In exchange, they were given a bank account from which they can draw the new notes. The regulator is trying to deter cash hoarding that enables corruption and illegal trading to thrive, and escape the tax net.
Also read: The new currency notes in Ethiopia
The rush of applications forced the nation’s biggest commercial lender to assign more tellers to only handle money changing at it’s main branch next to it headquarters in the capital, Addis Ababa. The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia branch gained at least 1,000 customers in the past month, while many others deposited cash in accounts that had been dormant.
“On the first day of the new currency notes, you wouldn’t believe what happened here — everybody came,” said Nebyou Birhanu, who heads digital services at CBE. “The money is coming into the bank.”
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