Two of Nigeria’s largest mobile network operators (MNOs) have received the banking regulator’s bank licence approvals in what may be a major boost for their mobile money services.
MTN Nigeria, the largest MNO in the country owned by South Africa’s MTN Group and Airtel Nigeria, the number three MNO by subscriber base, announced Thursday and today respectively that they have received the licence approvals from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The two MNOs drive to move beyond voice and data into the delivery of banking services brings more value for their customers as they account for a combined 124,602,491 active phone lines, with MTN Nigeria’s base of 73,566,926 (38.61%) and Airtel Nigeria’s 51,035,565 (26.79%) as of September this year when overall telecoms market peaked at 190,854,069 (99.98%) the telecoms regulator’s data reviewed by Technology Times shows.
Mobile Money: Next Frontier for Telcos
“MTN Nigeria Communications Plc (MTN Nigeria) as promoter, received an Approval in Principle (AIP) dated 4 November 2021 from the Central Bank of Nigeria for a licence application for the proposed MoMO Payment Bank Limited”, Uto Ukpanah, MTN Nigeria Company Secretary says in a company statement.
According to MTN, the apex bank’s approval “is the first step in the process towards a final approval, subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions and stipulated by the CBN.”
The Nigerian banking regulator’s “decision to issue a final approval is firmly within the regulatory purview of the CBN and we respect their right and judgement in that regards”, MTN says.
The leading MNO, which reaffirms its commitment towards the financial inclusion agenda of the CBN and Federal Republic of Nigeria says it hopes to continue “to explore means whereby it can contribute to its fulfilment.”
According to Ukpanah, “while we look forward to the eventual grant of the final PSB licence, we will continue to communicate material information in accordance with regulatory obligations and guidelines.”
On its part, Airtel Nigeria announced simultaneously in Lagos and London today that its subsidiary, Smartcash, has also been granted an AIP by CBN to operate a payment service bank business in the country.
Mr Segun Ogunsanya, Airtel Africa CEO, says the final approval is subject to the mobile telephony group satisfying certain standard conditions within six months.
“I am very pleased that Smartcash has been granted an approval in principle to operate a service bank business in Nigeria. We will now work closely with the Central Bank to meet all conditions to receive the operating licence and commence operations,” the Airtel Africa CEO says.
According to Ogunsanya, “the final operating licence willl enable us to expand our digital financial products and reach millions of Nigerians that do not have access to traditional financial services. I am looking forward to working closely with the Government, the Central Bank and traditional financial institutions to expand financial inclusion and meet the evolving needs of our customers and the economy.”