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Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE)

The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia has more than 22 million account holders who can be entertained by a number of services. With money digitization in mind, the bank has now more than two and a half million internet banking users as of last year.

Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE)

One of the predominant banks operating in Ethiopia is the Commerical Bank of Ethiopia, AKA CBE. Way before its establishment, the bank was under the State Bank of Ethiopia, which was founded in 1942. That led the way for CBE to be founded separately in 1963, before its unification with the, back then, Addis Ababa Bank in 1974.

CBE is the first bank to introduce modern banking to Ethiopia. It was once the leading African banks with assets of 485.7 billion Birr as of June 30th, 2017. It now has over 1500 branches across the country and plays a significant role in the economic progress and development of the country.

CBE is also the first bank to introduce Western Union Money Transfer Services in the country and currently working with more than twenty money transfer agents like Atlantic International, Xpress Money, and Money Gram. CBE has reliable and enduring relationships with internationally recognized banks across the world.

The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia has a well-built correspondent relationship with renowned foreign banks like Commerz Bank A.G., Royal Bank of Canada, City Bank, HSBC Bank, it also has a SWIFT bilateral arrangement with more than 700 others banks throughout the world.

What is the Role of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia?

The commercial bank role in Ethiopia is to act as a government representative bank directed to the larger company working with import, and export businesses.

Services Provided by the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia

Commercial Bank of Ethiopia has a range of options. You can go with Ordinary saving, Youth, Teen, Education saving account, and a specific saving account for Women. Choose the type of account that suits you the best.

Saving Account Commercial Bank of Ethiopia

Personal Account

DefinitionWith a minimum of %7, you can open an interest-bearing account as long as you are satisfying certain legalities and requirements by the bank, either as an individual, association, organization, or company.

Required Document
  • If you are an individual, you must bring any credentials that verify you, like passport, ID, school ID, etc.
  • If you are a Private Limited Company, you must possess any documents that ensure that you are a PLC, like a work permit paper, legal business opening file, etc

Demand Account

Definition: This is a non-interest-bearing account and only literate customers can open such an account. The demand account can be either a checking or current account. In addition to literate customers, legal agents named by the principal can also open and/or operate demand accounts. The process to verify such a legal agent has to go through the bank’s legal department, area offices, or branch managers. Situations determine who verifies that. If all the legal documents are successfully processed, a minimum of 500 birr for a current account, and 1000 birr for others.

Demand Account Types provided by the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia

Some terminologies might be difficult to understand. However, it can be easily understandable depending on your need. You can have an ordinary demand deposit, special-demand deposit, or ECX related accounts. These are the three types of demand accounts provided by the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia.

Required Documents
  • Same as the personal account, if you are an individual, you must bring any credentials that verify you, like passport, ID, school ID, etc.
  • Additionally, if you are a Private Limited Company, you must possess any documents that ensure that you are a PLC, like a work permit paper, legal business opening file, etc.

Commerical Bank of Ethiopia Diaspora Account

DefinitionIndividuals, companies, and residing foreign citizens as well as Ethiopians who have lived more than a year abroad and Ethiopians by origin but have different nationalities, are eligible to have a non-resident account, known as a Diaspora account. Such an account is a non-interest bearing account and can be used for payments within Ethiopia (local payments) as two types have an interest, namely Fixed Time Deposit and Non-Repatriable Diaspora account. The source of the deposits is in foreign currencies, which the bank will use the current date for the exchange price. See other the list of best banks for diaspora

Non-Resident Account Types provided by the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia

There are 5 types of Diaspora account that the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia provides for its customers:

  • Diaspora accounts
  • Non-Resident Transferable for Birr Account, AKA (NR-T Birr)
  • Non-Resident Non-Transferable for Birr Account, AKA (NR-NT Birr)
  • Non-Resident Transferable foreign currency, AKA (NR-T)
  • Foreign Exchange Retention accounts
Required Documents
  • The following must verify their ownership to legally have a Diaspora account in Ethiopia:
  • Foreign Nationals of Ethiopian Origin
  • Exporters
  • Diplomats
  • Non-Resident Ethiopians
  • Embassies
  • International Organizations
  • Foreign Investors
  • International Charities
  • Emigrant(refugee) Employees of International Organizations

Investment Loan

For investment loan, Commercial Bank of Ethiopia offers a wide range of options:

  • Motor Vehicle, Construction Machinery, Agricultural Term, Partial Financing, Syndicate, Term, and Idea Financing loans.
  • Any group or individual who has/have a recognized, scientific invention/study by the government of Ethiopia that deals with seeding innovative ideas, (namely MINT).
  • Once Intellectual Property Right Protection is obtained from the designated office, the loan is then granted for those innovators to mass-produce their ideas

The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia might extend the loan to Idea Financing loans to up to a maximum period of 10 years, with a one year grace period Continuing with the options that CBE offers as loan investment, which includes:

  • Loan against Corporate Bond
  • Housing Development Loan
  • Equipment and/or Machinery Leasing Financing

Micro Finance Loan

Definition: Basically, they are organizations that have some sort of engagement in supplying financial services such as savings and credit to the low-income (poor) division of the community.

  • CBE does loans to micro-finance institutions in only term loans that are subjected to repayment from within a short to medium term.
  • CBE will extend credit ability to such institutions when they raise their financial limitations for giving credit to other micro-entrepreneurs.
  • The Bank may negotiate on the interest rate on credit to the Micro Finance Institutions.
  • Discussions can happen on the interest rate for the credit given to micro-finance institutions.


  • To be eligible for micro-finance loans by CBE, an institution should have an excellent loan portfolio in terms of savings, loan approvals, best recovery practices, and similar measures and indices.
  • Micro-Finance Institutions should also ascertain that they are legally registered with the National Bank of Ethiopia and abide by and meet all relevant policies and directives of the National Bank of Ethiopia regarding:
  • As a notice, such institutions must know that they are legally registered with the NBE (AKA: National Bank of Ethiopia) and that they are following the policies and commands of the NBE for: Reserve, Liquidity, Capital adequacy, and Minimum paid-up capital requirements, and any other requirements set by the National Bank of Ethiopia.

As a security measure, micro-finance institutions shall propose a minimum of %75 of the principal loan,  if they are able to obtain a credit-guarantee plan from the designated part.

Working Capital Loan

Definition: is a loan that is taken to finance a company’s everyday operations. These loans are not used to buy long-term assets or investments and are, instead, used to provide the working capital that covers a company’s short-term operational needs. Working Capital loan within the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia policies includes:

  • Import Letter of Credit Facility
  • Pre-Shipment Export Credit Facility
  • Advance on Export Bills Facility
  • Overdraft and overdraw Facility
  • Merchandise Loan Facility
  • Overdraw
  • Import Letter of Credit Settlement Loan
  • Revolving Export Credit Facility
  • Letter of Guarantee Facility

Trade Service

Definition: One of the fundamental services of CBE is trade services, as the bank has connections with mostly all international banking services. Trade services can now be found on all the branches of CBE with hired customer service officers.

Services: CBE offers trade services in the form of:

Documentary Credit (L/C)

This is a written letter vow by CBE that is given to the seller if the buyer asked for a payment to be made, or receive and pay bills as an exchange (AKA draft). The seller draws the number up to a declared sum of money within an expressed time duration and against specific documents. It includes:

  • Import:- it is available by observation of payment/negotiation, payment/deferred payment*/acceptance payment*. There are forms to be filled, namely LS Application or LS Amendment.
  • Export:- payment available by observation of negotiation/acceptance of bills. *If approved by the National Bank of Ethiopia

Documentary Collection:

This is a way that CBE handles a seller’s commercial documents, either in the presence of financial documents or not. This procedure must go in alignment with instructions given by the seller, so the documents can be delivered to the buyer (namely as the Importer). This also has to go head to head with payments and/or acceptance or other term and condition sets, which has:

  • Import:– this is available by sight payment. There are two types of forms: – Documentary Credit Application and  – Documentary Credit Amendment forms
  • Export:- this is also available by sight payment/acceptance payment

Advance Payment:

This is a way in which a seller gets payment from a buyer before shipment of the agreed on goods, or rendering service takes place. The advance payment contains:

  • Import- Payment through bank transfers
  • Export- Payment through bank transfers, traveler cheques, cash (as long as it is declared).

Consignment Basis Payment:

This is a way of payment that the title of the goods remains with the seller until a distributor in a foreign country sells them. The payment is afterward made when the agent sells the goods.

  • Export- it is applicable to the likely to decay items, for example, fruits, flowers, meat, syrup, etc as approved by the National Bank of Ethiopia


The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia issues a written promise to pay a sum of money to the beneficiary, either local or foreign, in which the obligor (one who is bound by an obligation to another) fails to satisfy obligations in alignment with the terms, conditions, and policies agreed upon on the guarantee or agreement or contract.

Types of Guarantee

  • Advance Payment
  • Bid and Performance Bonds
  • Custom and retention duty.

Eligibility criteria/conditions:

Customers that request the above products of Trade Service, except guarantee should fulfill the following criteria:

  • Should maintain a current account with the bank
  • Should be in the possession of valid trade license for import /export as appropriate or business license or investment or industry license or must exist in the list of budgetary government organizations issued by the National Bank of Ethiopia. In the case of the non-government organizations, a certificate issued by the Ministry of Justice, Regional Governments, and offices authorized by proclamation.
  • Should have Tax Identification Number(TIN)
  • Should not be reported as a delinquent by the NBE


Allows companies the ability to reassure end parties the ability to contractually pay and finance larger projects. They offer financial credibility and creditworthiness which is backed by the bank Contracts and terms can be negotiated as guarantees can be paid or issued in different currencies.

Foreign Remittance

Definition: Inward and outward funds transfers are received in CBE via S.W.I.F.T (The society for worldwide interbank Financial Telecommunication) which is one of the largest financial messaging systems in the world.


A secure network for transmitting messages between financial institutions by sending payment orders which must be settled by correspondent accounts that the financial institutions have with each other. These correspondent accounts are held in the network of correspondent Banks (Link here to the table of correspondent banks)

CBE’s Swift Code:    CBETETAA


  • Reliability
  •  Security
  • Access to a worldwide network of correspondent banks.
  •  Speed of transmission.

Procedure Foreign remittance

What the sender has to do when sending money to Ethiopia

  • Give the full name and address of the beneficiary (including grandfather name)
  • State the nearest branch to the beneficiary (for inward collection of funds)
  • State the account number of the beneficiary (for inward transfer to account)
  • State the S.W.I.F.T code of Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBETETAA)

What the Beneficiary/ Receiver does

  • If they have an account with CBE, the transfer will be transferred to their account.
  • If they won’t collect the transfer from the branch, they must state the full name (including their grandfather’s name) and address and full name and address of the Sender.
  • Present an up-to-date identification card, driving license, or passport.

For foreign remittance in CBE, there are over 700 correspondent banks and 50 Nostro accounts

Interest-Free Banking Commercial Bank of Ethiopia

IFB Background

The term “Interest-Free banking” refers to a system of banking that is consistent with Islamic law (Shariah) principles and guided by Islamic economics. In particular, Islamic law prohibits usury, the collection and payment of interest, also commonly called riba in Islamic discourse. In addition, Islamic law prohibits investing in businesses that are considered unlawful, or haraam (such as businesses that sell alcohol or pork, or businesses that produce media such as gossip columns or pornography, which are contrary to Islamic values).

IFB also engaged in Islamic Insurance (takafu), Islamic Investment house, Mutual funds, Leasing companies, and commodity trading companies at the multilateral level.

As the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) is licensed by the National Bank of Ethiopia to give these services, it would provide the services at specified windows of selected branches of the bank. Interest-free banking is available to all customers who want to make use of alternative banking services. CBE has a separate and dedicated system that does not mix the movement of accounts in those windows with the regular ones.

Type of Services

Saving and Current Account Deposits: – Under this category of services are found four kinds of accounts. Those are

1. Wadiah Amanah (saving with guarantee)

This type of account is opened for an unspecified length of time by customers who own the funds in the Bank for safekeeping.  Depositors give their consent to the Bank to deal with the whole or any part of their monies in the manner that it deems fit, so long as it is not against sharia. The Bank will guarantee repayment of the whole sum or any outstanding part in the depositor account without any interest when demanded.

2. Amanah (current account)

This is an interest-free current account opened for an unspecified length of time and managed through checks until the depositor demands payment and is paid promptly/right away.

3. Mudharabah (profit sharing saving account)

This is a type of investment partnership where a customer deposits money for an unspecified length of time and the Bank shares both the profit and loss with her/him. The customer may withdraw his/her deposit at any time, but the Bank may impose some restrictions on the amount to be taken out as this arrangement is both a profit and loss sharing partnership.

4. Mudharabah (fixed-time deposit)

Mudharabah is a profit-sharing fixed time deposit. To benefit from this service the depositor (customer) should not withdraw the deposited amount before the agreed date in the contract. If the customer, however, demands the money deposited before the stated date, the Bank may not share the profit.

 Trade partnership financing

This service consists of


This service involves a request from a customer to the Bank or by the initiative of the Bank to purchase and then on-sell to the customer certain goods and/or assets not banned by sharia. The sale by the Bank to the customer is at cost plus on an agreed margin. Payment by the customer is in one or more pre-determined installments at agreed points in time. Ownership of the goods passes to the customer upon delivery by the Bank. Such a sale contract is valid on condition that the price, other costs, and the profit margins of the seller are stated at the time of the agreement of sale. The asset/good remains as a mortgage with the Bank until the default is settled. The Bank may ask for collateral, if necessary, for this financial service, Among the services included in Murabaha are the following:

  •   Murabaha fixed-time financing —- For production inputs, purchase of machinery, or short-term project;
  •  Murabaha revolving  financing — For purchase of production inputs;
  •  Murabaha LC  financing — For purchase of production inputs from abroad or for buying machinery;
  • Murabaha pre-shipment and Murabah post-shipment financing for the purchase of goods to be exported.


This is a financing service that would be made available in cash for operating costs to customers engaged in agriculture as per the agreement to be reached between the Bank and the customer. It is an arrangement whereby the customer delivers the type of product s/he produces in accordance with the type, quality, quantity, price, and time agreed upon with the Bank or to the agent/body the Bank has entered salam finance agreement. The Bank may ask for collateral, if necessary.


Istisna is a contract of sales and purchase of assets by specification or order where the price is paid in advance but the assets are manufactured or produced and delivered at a later date. In line with this, the Bank will deliver industrially produced goods or assembled and constructed items as per the orders/specifications of the customers when they are finalized by the producers. The Bank, based on the job order/specifications of the customer and making a separate agreement with the builders/producers, may make payments to the institutions at once or in installments by assessing the progress of the work. The Bank may ask for a guarantee from the customer and producer/builder.


This is a leasing agreement where the Bank buys agricultural vehicles or industrial machinery for lease/rent on its own initiative or by the order of a customer/client and then leases it back over to him/her/it for a fixed period. Depending on the promise given earlier, the Bank can sell the asset or transfer it freely to the lessee customer on or before the last day of the lease agreement. The Bank may ask for a guarantee to provide this service.

By making use of these a customer can obtain money for:

  • Running costs;
  • Purchase of goods/assets;
  • Export and import trade;
  • Project finance;
  • Lease; and
  • Operating cost for agricultural works/activities.

Guarantee: – The Bank makes available guarantees such as advance payment guarantee, bid bond and performance bond; and it may request collateral for the services.

International Trade Support Financing

The service is provided for customers engaged in export and import trade, and it is an arrangement where customers delegate the Bank or collaborate with it.  This service is similar to the international trade support service given regularly interest-free.


Local beneficiaries of hawallah can collect money sent to them through branches of the Bank from any part of the country from the closest branch that has interest free banking window and could similarly send money using this service. Besides, customers can similarly utilize the service to receive money sent to them from any corner of the world.

Foreign Exchange

Customers of international trade support services can trade/exchange foreign currencies according to the spot rate of the day.

CBE Electronic Baking

Through CBE’s Internet Banking, many transactions can be carried out from the comfort of your home or office. The online services include:

  • Viewing account balances and transactions.
  • Making fund transfers between a customer’s own current accounts and savings accounts.
  • Effecting payments to third parties, including bill payments to predefined CBE customers within Ethiopia.
  • Viewing and downloading Current and Saving account statements.
  • Requesting for Stop Payments on cheques, etc.
  • Applying for a Letter of Credit.

Using CBE’s Internet Banking facility, customers will benefit from Personal and Corporate Internet Banking services that are available, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from any location.

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