The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and Ethiopian Airlines are bracing their business partnership by introducing new joint transaction services.

In a joint press conference held on Wednesday at Ethiopian Skylight Hotel executives of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) and Ethiopian Airlines have announced that they are forging new partnerships. The officials launched a co-branded payment card that can enable customers to accumulate miles on their Sheba Miles Program, Ethiopian Airlines frequent-flyer program, when they transact using the platinum debit card.

Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde Gebremariam told the conference that using the co-branded payment card customers can buy air tickets, use hotel services and buy goods from supermarkets and earn miles on their Sheba Miles Program. Tewolde said Ethiopian has digitalized all its services. “Using their smartphones, passengers can book their flights, buy tickets, and check in,” he said. “Ethiopian has become a paperless company. We have eliminated paper out of our back-office operation,” he added.

Tewolde said that Ethiopian has increased its digital sales to 40 percent in Ethiopia and its global digital sales to 25 percent. Ethiopian currently operates 125 international and 22 domestic destinations.

Tewolde said that CBE is Ethiopian’s strong partner which helps the airlines boost its sales. “Our customers can use various payment options to buy air tickets,” he said.

According to Tewolde, Ethiopian managed to sell air tickets worth 300 million birr through CBE’s payment options in 10 months’ time. “We appreciate what CBE is going. Digital sales saves cost, time and avoids inconvenience. We will continue working together with CBE,” he said.

Ethiopian Airlines has been using a co-branded payment card with United Bank. “We will also invite other banks to launch similar payment cards,” Tewolde said.

Bacha Gina, president and CEO of CBE, noted that thirty percent of CBE’s transaction is digital. The banks plans to increase its digital transaction to 90 percent by 2025. “We urge customers to use ATM, mobile banking and CBE Birr,” Bacha said.

According to Bacha, CBE is heightening its partnership with Ethiopian Airlines to satisfy customers’ demands. “We can say that all Sheba Miles members (in Ethiopia) use CBE. Previously, customers of Ethiopian used to earn miles when they travel by air. But now they can earn mile by transacting with the co branded payment card,” he said.

Envisioned with becoming an international bank by 2025, CBE has 1516 branches and 22 million customers. The bank has over 2.1 million CBE Birr customers, two million mobile banking users and five million ATM card holders.

CBE has a branch office in South Sudan and a subsidiary branch in Djibouti. “In South Sudan we hope to open more branches,” Bacha said.

CBE is planning to open new branches in Somaliland and Saudi Arabia. “We are also planning to open new branches in Somaliland and Saudi Arabia this year. We are also planning to open other overseas branches in the coming two three years,” Bacha said.