Digital Merchant Payments Specialist (NPSA11)

Location:  Addis Ababa

Grade: NB5

Closing Date: Aug 04, 2022

Job Description

UNDP is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the strictest confidence.
UNDP does not tolerate sexual exploitation and abuse, any kind of harassment, including sexual harassment, and discrimination. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks.
UNCDF is the UN’s capital investment agency for the world’s least developed countries (LDCs). It creates new opportunities for poor people and their communities by increasing access to inclusive finance and investment capital.

The Better Than Cash Alliance hosted by UNCDF is a partnership of 80 governments, companies and international organizations that accelerates the transition from cash to digital payments in order to reduce poverty, drive inclusive growth and accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Billions of dollars in cash payments and transfers are made daily in emerging and developing economies, including payment of salaries, social welfare and relief, payments to suppliers, remittances, etc. The problems with these cash payments include a lack of transparency, accountability and security, as well as inefficiency.

Shifting these payments from cash to digital has the potential to improve the lives of low- income people, particularly women -who are twice as likely to be excluded from the financial system, while giving governments, the development community and the private sector a more transparent, time and cost efficient, and often safer means of disbursing payments. Digitizing payments can also contribute to women’s economic participation by providing them with more control over family finances, increasing personal security, and improving economic opportunities.

The Alliance Secretariat works with its 80 members to navigate their digitization journeys by:

    • Providing advisory services based on member priorities
    • Sharing action-oriented research and fostering peer learning
    • Conducting advocacy at national, regional and global level
    • The Better Than Cash Alliance Secretariat Core Values:
      • Achieving together
      • Striving for excellence
      • Service-oriented
      • Results-oriented
Duties and Responsibilities

The NDPS is entering its second year of implementation. The Alliance has been providing technical support to the National Bank of Ethiopia to implement the strategy. Year was focused on building and laying the foundational rails critical to spur responsible digital payments. While that process will continue, the adoption and usage of digital payments are critical to the success of the strategy. To ensure the adoption and usage of responsible digital payments, identifying routine use cases among the majority of the population is one of the key successes in building an inclusive digital payments ecosystem. In Ethiopia, the majority of transactions across different economic sectors are still conducted in cash. Promoting merchant acceptance infrastructure, adoption, and usage across Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) has the potential to deepen usage among both consumers and large players higher in the value chain (P2B, B2B). Estimates of the number of MSMEs in Ethiopia vary between 136,000 and 154,000, of which an estimated 92,000 (or 63%) are micro enterprises (SME Finance Forum, 2021). Together they create around 2 million jobs (Central Statistics Agency, 2021). National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) estimates that cash payments still account for more than 90% of retail transactions. 64% of ATM transactions are cash withdrawals. POS penetration remains low and 40% of POS machines are in banks. Mobile money, while on the rise, is still primarily used to purchase airtime and to a lesser extent for G2P payment. It is therefore likely that the bulk of small merchant transactions happen in cash. Identifying and digitizing use cases that individuals and companies frequently use for transactions (P2B, P2P, B2B, and B2P) can increase comfort with digital payments and increase digital transaction volumes. To make digital payments a ubiquitous part of the lives of all citizens, it has to be as applicable to the small merchant’s retail market as it is to organized retail and across the whole supply chain

This work will build on the Shakti program that the Alliance has been working with its corporate member, Unliver Ethiopia, piloting and drawing lessons on digitizing rural based women owned micro-enterprises (Shakti Program) payments. The Unilever Shakti Program is an inclusive business model to financially empower rural women and create livelihood opportunities while growing brand awareness and route-to-market solutions in rural areas. Leveraging lessons from the Shakti program, as well as building on successes from other Alliance members who are driving merchant acceptance in their economies, Ethiopia has identified digitizing merchant payments as key to driving adoption and usage of digital payments.

Map merchant payments supply side, starting in Addis Ababa, develop a directory of payments service providers, including key players supporting digital payments

    1. Working with NBE’s Payments Systems & Settlement Directorate (PSSD), develop a working plan of engaging key players in the merchant payments segment;
    2. Building on the Alliance’s recent research on Ethiopia’s merchant payments landscaping, map common supply chains, focusing on key players and providers of merchant digital payments;
    3. Assist the NBE to develop a repository of merchant supply side, providing a comparative analysis of available alternatives that financial service providers (FSP) have;
    4. Adopting and using the FIGI framework, map existing incentives by providers and government in driving digital payments to merchants and use these to advise the NBE on possible catalytic incentives that will accelerate the responsible digital payments across different supply chains.

Segment the supply chain into identifiable components that can be developed either independently or in complementarity of each other, to further develop understanding of the opportunities for engagement

    1. Based on the mapping exercise, segment supply chains into identifiable components for further engagement into implementable pilot;
    2. Work with the NBE to design actionable plans, based on the NDPS implementation framework, and focused on prioritized supply chains;
    3. Identify and rally key partners to roll out pilot on selected supply chain, providing the necessary technical support.

On-boarding of merchants for digital payments, including e-commerce platforms and MSMEs.

    1. Working with the relevant government entities focused on promoting MSMEs growth, and with guidance from the NBE, develop a focused approach to onboard merchants and orient merchants on digital payments opportunities;
    2. Coordinate development partners involved in digital literacy and skills development for MSMEs to incorporate responsible digital payments;
    3. Co-create content and co-facilitate NBE organized merchant payment workshops, sharing lessons learned and working with selected action teams within the NDPS implementation Framework to raise awareness and explore strategic options to accelerate responsible merchant payments acceptance;
    4. Leverage ongoing initiatives by FSPs to support the development of value-added financial and non- financial solutions for merchants riding on digital payments transaction data.

Monitor merchant payments trends and provide regular reports on the implementation status of digital merchant payments in Ethiopia.

    1. Together with the NBE and or its affiliates, co-design a monitoring system to track payments trends among selected supply chains and work on a reporting mechanism to update the market;
    2. Working with different industry bodies, ensure the UN Principles for responsible digital payments are embedded in rolling out merchant payment solutions along the various supply chains.

Document, convene and share key lessons on digitizing merchant payments, and layout a foundation for scaling to other regions.

    1. Document key lessons learned implementing a merchant payments technical assistance support to the government;
    2. Convene and share on the go, some of the key lessons to assist shape the strategic focus of key ecosystem players;
    3. Work with the industry and NBE to develop a scalable plan to expand responsible digital payments to other regions, drawing lessons from the digitizing supply chains.
Institutional Arrangement:
The Digital Merchant Payments Specialist will report to the Programme Specialist that is located in Kigali- Rwanda and is also expected to liaise with the Private Sector Digital Innovation Lead.
Core Competencies:

Achieve Results: Level 3: Set and align challenging, achievable objectives for multiple projects, have lasting impact.

Think Innovatively: Level 3:  Proactively mitigate potential risks, develop new ideas to solve complex problems.

Learn Continuously: Level 3:  Create and act on opportunities to expand horizons, diversify experiences.

Adapt with Agility: Level 3:  Proactively initiate and champion change, manage multiple competing demands.

Act with Determination: Level 3:  Think beyond immediate task/barriers and take action to achieve greater results.

Engage and Partner: Level 3: Political savvy, navigate complex landscape, champion inter-agency collaboration.

Enable Diversity and Inclusion: Level 3: Appreciate benefits of diverse workforce and champion inclusivity.

Technical /Crossfunctional Competencies:

Business Management:  Project Management: Ability to plan, organize, prioritize and control resources, procedures and protocols to achieve specific goals.

Business Management: Communication:  Ability to communicate in a clear, concise and unambiguous manner both through written and verbal communication; to tailor messages and choose communication methods depending on the audience.

Digital and Innovation: Data Privacy and Digital Ethics: Knowledge of ethical usage of digital technology (e.g. AI, robotics, automation) and data. Ability to assess ethical implications when using, combining or sharing data, when building or implementing AI systems, and when advising on robotization and automation etc. Ability to design privacy protocols to ensure data is protected and used for legitimate purposes without unnecessary privacy risks.

Partnership management: Relationship management: Ability to engage with a wide range of public and private partners, build, sustain and/or strengthen working relations, trust and mutual understanding.

Partnership management: Strategic engagement: Ability to capture and sustain attention, interest and agreement of high-level, influential policy and decision makers and secure their buy-in of high-level vision and objectives.

Business Direction and Strategy: Business Acumen: Ability to understand and deal with a business situation in a manner that is likely to lead to a good outcome.

Required Skills and Experience
  • Master’s degree in Public /Business Administration, Finance, Economics, International Affairs, Development, Political Science, or other relevant fields.
  • Minimum 7 years of relevant professional experience, in digital payments, financial services, financial inclusion, and economic development;
  • Demonstrable experience in multilateral, government relations or inter-government processes in Ethiopia is required and more broadly in East Africa is desired;
  • Minimum 5-7 years of experience conducting research or direct implementation of projects on digital payments as well as broader knowledge and public and private sector networks in digital financial services and financial inclusion, with a strong gender lens is required;
  • Working knowledge of current developments in payment technologies, including innovative payment methods (e.g., digital government, mobile financial services, pre-paid/reloadable/other cards, etc.) and practical knowledge of digital payments and digital financial inclusion is essential;
  • Understanding of key issues and international good practices relating to digital payments with a focus on inclusion and challenges in rural areas and under-served customer segments such as farmers, merchants, and MSMEs;
  • Solid skills in policy analysis, market research, and data analysis/management (spreadsheets, data visualization tools like Tableau, etc.);
  • Impeccable diplomatic skills, particularly in working with governments of emerging economies in Africa;
  • Excellent presentation and representation skills in multicultural contexts;
  • Demonstrated excellent writing, editing, and communications skills to an international standard including correspondence, reports, talking points, and briefing material is essential;
  • Experience in organizing high-level meetings with networks to local partners in public relations and event management is desirable;
  • Computer literacy, including familiarity with spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations essential;
  • Demonstrates a high degree of initiative and independence in delivering required outputs within tight time-frames, exercising problem-solving skills while at the same time demonstrating flexibility and the ability to get the job done effectively;
  • Ability to review data, identify and adjust discrepancies;
  • Ability to operate and maintain a variety of computerized business machines and office equipment in order to provide efficient delivery of service.


Fluency in English and Amharic, both oral and written is required.

Applicant information about UNDP roster
Note: UNDP reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement.  We may also retain applications and consider candidates applying to this post for other similar positions with UNDP at the same grade level and with similar job description, experience and educational requirements.
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