Abay Bank, one of the youngest banks in the country, along with Atlas Computer Technology has developed a new payment platform that enables customers to make utility and other payments online through mobile phones.

Named the Uni-Cash System, the payment solution was developed by Atlas Computer Technology, a local IT company that has been in business for the past 15 years. The platform allows schools, universities, utility companies, hotels, travel agencies and healthcare centres to receive payments digitally.

Service providers register their payment request on the system for their customers, who then can settle payments through the system. The system enables service providers to get the report of the payment and notifies customers about their payment via SMS.

Uni-Cash has three module systems: Uni-Cash Central, Uni-Cash Enterprise and Uni-Cash Bank, which work together for enterprises, banks and customers. Uni-Cash Central is the single point of communication for businesses as well as banks and customers. It is also the point where messages for payments, queries and updates on status are collected from banks and enterprises and distributed.

Uni-Cash Enterprise serves businesses by serving as the point where payment requests are populated by the businesses. Enterprises can upload their request for payment including who pays and which banks the customer can pay at, the validity period of the payments and other information. The service providers can also cancel payment requests, create regular payments, and check the status of payments.

Uni-Cash Bank is the interface point for banks. Banks can search payment requests, update payment requests and print and provide proof of payments. Banks can search the system for reports about past payments, pending payments and other information.

Uni-Cash Bank is deployed at the bank, interfaces with Uni-Cash Central, and is integrated with the core banking system of other banks and channel payment systems, according to Merid Tilahun, the technical managing director of Atlas Computer Technology.

The system started operations this April. For the service, Atlas Computer Technology, which deployed 26 professionals to develop the system, gets paid quarterly.

Two schools are in the process of registering with the system, according to Belete Dagnew, chief retail banking officer of Abay, which commenced operations a decade ago and now has over 4,000 shareholders. During the 2018/19 fiscal year, the Bank netted 501.6 million Br in profit, a 70pc increase from the preceding fiscal year. Its paid-up capital has also reached 1.7 billion Br.

Before registering with the system, schools have to provide the students’ documents, addresses and parents’ phone numbers.

“The system will enable the Bank to get new customers and keep customers working with the Bank for a longer period,” Belete said.

It will save time for parents who have been visiting banks to pay fees and then go back to the school in person to get stamps on the receipts they brought from the banks, according to him.

School of Redemption, an elementary and high school located in Lebu area with over 2,000 students, is one of the users of Uni-Cash system.

“Beyond creating convenience for parents,” said Demeke Ayalew, the school’s general manager, “it enables us to manage our finances effectively.”

Tewodros Tassew, a fintech expert with a decade of experience in the industry, suggests the banking industry focus more on the interoperability of services, which enable banks to communicate and exchange data.