Bank Review: The Bank of Abyssinia—Everything you need to know

Bank Review: The Bank of Abyssinia—Everything you need to know

The Bank of Abyssinia (BoA) is a leading commercial bank in Ethiopia with 710 branches, 6 million active customers, and 1300 ATMs.

BoAs E-commerce and virtual banking products are the cherry on top of the diverse products the bank offers to individuals, businesses, and Ethiopians in the Diaspora.

This article covers the products and services offered by the Bank of Abyssinia, how to access them, and useful links to the forms needed to sign up for BoAs products and services.

History and importance of Abyssinia bank

Emperor Minilik II (1844-1913), born Sahle Miriam, is regarded as one of Ethiopia’s greatest leaders.

During his rule, he expanded Ethiopia’s territory, defeated Italy at the Battle of Adwa, and modernized Ethiopia.

As part of his modernisation efforts, Emperor Minilik II- in partnership with the British-owned National Bank of Egypt- inaugurated the first bank in Ethiopia in 1906.

The bank was named the Bank of Abyssinia, but it was renamed The Commercial bank of Ethiopia and turned into a state bank in 1943 when Ethiopia wanted more control over its financial system.

In 1996, 90 years after the first Bank of Abyssinia was established, the current Bank of Abyssinia was created with only 131 shareholders, 42 staff, and a start-up capital of $972,726 thousand.

Today, BoA has 2400+ shareholders, 7000 employees, and assets worth more than $107 million.

Mr. Mekonnen Manyazewal is the current BoA Board Chairman

The BoA has contributed to Ethiopia’s economic and social growth by donating to various local projects like the construction of the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam, the establishment of the Ethiopian Cardiac Center, the Ethiopia Rotary Club, and the establishment of Ethiopian Women Traders’ Associations.

Abyssinia Bank services

The Bank of Abyssinia (BoA) has different products and services for its local and diaspora audience.

These services are in 5 categories: local deposit accounts, loan services, E-commerce services, international banking services, and interest-free banking (IFB).

Local deposit accounts

Local deposit accounts are suited for local Ethiopians interested in saving and investing their money.

You need to download a BoA account opening form and visit a BoA branch near you to open a local deposit account.

It is best to consider the benefits of each account before you get started.

The 3 main types of local deposit accounts BoA offers are:

Savings account

Savings accounts are used to save and deposit money in Birr, make local payments, and access loans and special offers from Abyssinia bank.

These accounts can be accessed through the BoA’s online, mobile, and card banking services.

Examples of BoA saving account products are Adey (women's) savings account, Education savings account, Teen youth savings account, etc.

You can learn more about the different types and benefits of BoA’s saving products here.

Current/ordinary demand account

Current/ordinary demand deposit accounts can be opened by individuals and businesses recognised by Ethiopian law.

There are no withdrawal limits and you can access the account through BoA’s online, mobile, and card banking platforms.

The only drawback is that the BoA does not pay interest on current accounts.  

Individuals also need a minimum amount of Birr 1000($19.46) to open an individual current account, while businesses need a minimum of Birr 2000($38.91) is required to open business current accounts.

An example of a BoA current account is the ECX Related account.

You can read more about the benefits of BoA’s current accounts here.

Fixed-time account

Fixed-time deposit accounts are accounts opened for a limited amount of time.

These accounts earn higher interest than regular savings accounts and they must be opened for a minimum of 6 months.

Fixed-time accounts are suited for individuals and companies that want to open a temporary account and still earn interest on their money.

You can learn more about BoA’s fixed-time accounts here.

Loan services

Bank of Abyssinia offers loans to individuals, businesses, and microfinance institutions.

The bank can also stand as a guarantor between two parties.

The interest rates on BoA start from 8% and they depend on the type, length, and terms of the loan.

You can use the BoA loan calculator to figure out the interest rate of any BoA loan you want to apply for.

There are 2 main types of loans offered by BoA:

Consumer and mortgage

These are BoA loans offered to Ethiopians living in and outside Ethiopia.

These loans can be used to either purchase a house or buy/lease a car.

Corporate and commercial credit product

These are BoA loans offered to businesses and corporations.

Some of the types of corporate and commercial loans offered by BoA are:

  • Merchandise loan facilities
  • Microfinance loans
  • Syndicate financing
  • Import and export loans

You can apply for a BoA loan by downloading the loan application form and visiting a BoA branch near you.

Ecommerce services

The Bank of Abyssinia has made it easy for SMEs and companies to easily receive payments from their customers.

To qualify for BoA’s E-commerce product, you need to have:

  • A merchant website or an app
  • A business license
  • A commercial registration certificate
  • A TIN registration certificate
  • A memorandum of understanding
  • An article  of association
  • A merchant representative ID copy

Interest-free banking (IFB)

The Bank of Abyssinia offers interest-free banking to individuals and businesses interested in banking according to Sharia laws.

Foreigners and Ethiopians in the Diaspora can also access and request for BoA's interest-free products and services.

BoAs interest-free banking means people can save and invest in ways that aren't considered “Haram”.

The entire suite of BoA’s interest-free banking products are known as Ameen.

Ameen’s products are split into 2 main categories: deposit accounts and financing accounts.

Ameen Deposit accounts

These are accounts suited for people interested in saving or making local payments.

Unlike normal deposit accounts, Ameen deposit accounts do not earn interest.

Examples of Ameen deposit accounts are Hajj Saving Account, Fityah Saving Account, Wadiah saving account, etc.

Simply visit a BoA branch near you to apply for Ameen Deposit accounts.

Ameen Financing products

These are ‘halal’ and Sharia-compliant investment products offered to individuals and businesses.

Examples of Ameen financing products are Murabahah Financing, Bai’ salam Financing, Quard Financing, etc.

To access Ameen Financing products, simply visit a BoA branch near you.

Types of diaspora accounts offered by The Bank of Abyssinia

The Bank of Abyssinia offers bank accounts to international bodies, foreigners, and Ethiopians in the diaspora.

These accounts allow them to easily save, deposit cash and make local transactions.

There are 2 types of diaspora accounts: non-resident accounts and non-diaspora accounts.

Non-resident accounts

Non-resident BoA accounts are suited for international organisations, foreigners, and staff members of foreign embassies.

There are 4 types of non-resident accounts:

Non-Resident Transferable foreign currency Account (NR/FCY)

This account is used to send and receive foreign currencies without a foreign exchange permit. The funds are not converted to Birr by the BoA.

Non-Resident Transferable Birr Account (NR/T)

This account is maintained in Birr and it can be used to send money abroad without a foreign exchange permit.

Non-Resident Non-Transferable (NR/NT)

This account is also maintained in Birr, but it needs approval from the National Bank of Ethiopia before it can send or receive foreign currency.

Non-diaspora accounts

Non-diaspora accounts are suited for Ethiopians living in the Diaspora. There are 4 types of non-diaspora accounts:

Diaspora current account

This is similar to the current account offered to local Ethiopians.

The main difference is that only foreign currencies can be added to a diaspora current account and money can be withdrawn in any currency of the owner’s choice.

Non-Repatriable Birr Account

This is similar to the savings accounts offered to local Ethiopians, but deposits can only be made with foreign currencies.

This account earns interest and it can only be used to make local payments.

Fixed-time deposit account

This is an interest bearing a foreign currency-denominated account time deposit with an agreed maturity date.

Diaspora Consumer and Mortgage Account

This account is suited for Ethiopians in the Diaspora interested in saving for a home.

To open a Diaspora account, all you need to do is download the diaspora account opening form and visit a BoA branch near you with the documents specified in the form.

How to access the Bank of Abyssinia products and services

Individuals and businesses can access BoA’s products and services in 4 ways: online banking, mobile banking, card banking, agent banking, and virtual banking.

Online banking

Online banking covers all of BoA’s services that can be accessed through its online portal here.

With BoA’s portal, you can:

  • Transfer funds to different accounts
  • View your account history and statement
  • Track your standing orders and loan payments
  • Request and stop chequebooks

To get started, simply download BoA’s internet banking form and visit any BoA branch near you to register for online banking.

ATM Banking

The Bank of Abyssinia ATM cards are called Habesha Cards.

Habesha cards are open to all account holders and they can be used to withdraw money, receive bank statements, check account balance, etc.

There are 3 types of Habesha cards: Habesha Gold debit card, Habesha Ameen Debit Card, and Habesha Classic Debit Card.

These cards differ in the minimum and maximum amounts they are allowed to withdraw. You can view the benefits of each card here.

You can apply for a Habesha debit card by downloading the form and visiting a BoA branch near you.

Agent Banking

The Bank of Abyssinia has an extensive agent network known as GizePay.

These agents are authorised to carry out banking transactions on behalf of BoA.

You can do the following transaction through BoA’s agents:

  • Bill Payment
  • Transfer funds to different accounts
  • Purchase airtime
  • Account statement
  • Balance inquiry
  • Opening E-Wallet Account (GizePay)

Virtual Banking

The Bank of Abyssinia offers interactive teller machines (ITM) in select areas to its customers.

These machines provide the exact same experience you would receive at a BoA branch. At these virtual branches, you can:

  • Transfer money to different types of accounts
  • Resolve your account issues
  • Open a BoA account
  • Request for digital products
  • Purchase FCY cash notes, etc.

Simply visit a BoA virtual branch location to use its interactive teller machine.

Mobile Banking

Mobile banking covers all of BoA’s products and services that can be accessed through a USSD code or BoA’s banking apps which are available on both IOS and Android devices.

With its USSD service, you can:

  • Transfer funds between accounts
  • Check your account balance
  • View your account statement
  • Check VoA’s daily exchange rate

Simply dial *815# to use BoA’s USSD service.

Some of the services available on the BoA mobile app include:

  • Funds transfer to different
  • Airtime purchase
  • School fee payment
  • US VISA Payment
  • Bill payments
  • Account statement
  • BoA’s daily exchange rate, etc.

Simply visit any BoA branch near you and download the mobile app from the Playstore or Appstore.

Frequently asked questions

How many branches does the Bank of Abyssinia have

The Bank of Abyssinia has 710 branches. You can find a BoA near you here.

What is the customer care number of Abyssinia bank

Simply dial 8397 to speak to a BoA customer care agent.

You can also send an email to contactcenter@bankofabyssinia.com

What is the contact information of Abyssinia bank

Headquarters: HQ Building, The Gambia Road, Legehar, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Customer care line: 8397

Email address: contactcenter@bankofabyssinia.com

What is Abyssinia bank SWIFT code

ABYSETAA

What is Abyssinia bank phone number

+251115540888 and +251 115319071

What is Abyssinia bank's interest rate

The Bank of Abyssinia offers a minimum of 7% interest on local deposit accounts.

For BoA loans, the interest rate depends on the conditions, length, and terms of the loan.

You can calculate the interest here.

What is Abyssinia bank exchange rate

You can check the BoAs latest exchange rate on its website here.

What are the social media handles of the Bank of Abyssinia

The Bank of Abyssinia is active on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

Conclusion

The Bank of Abyssinia is a technologically advanced bank with lots of products and services locals, businesses, foreigners, and Ethiopians in the diaspora can enjoy.

The BoAs website is easy to navigate and you get a full idea of the pros and cons of each BoA product and service.

You can not apply for these products online; You have to find the nearest BoA branch, which can be stressful for Ethiopians in the Diaspora.

The BoA makes up for this by making it possible to download most of the forms needed to open accounts or apply for loans from its website.

Sources

https://www.bankofabyssinia.com/

https://nbe.gov.et/history-of-banking/

http://www.growafrica.com/organization/bank-abyssinia#:~:text=The%20present%2Dday%20Bank%20of,84%2F1994.