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MTN, Airtel secure payment service bank permits in Nigeria

By , Sub Saharan Africa Business, Tech, News and Development Journalist
Nigeria , 05 Nov 2021

MTN and Airtel have obtained preliminary approvals from the Central Bank of Nigeria to run payment service banks pivoted on their respective Momo and Smartcash mobile financial services platforms.

In regulatory filings on the Nigeria Stock Exchange on Friday, the two African telcos separately said they would now work with the central bank to meet final conditions necessary for the proposed operations.

Airtel Africa, which has a presence in 14 countries across Africa, confirmed on Friday that it had been “granted approval in principle to operate a payment service bank business in Nigeria” although “final approval is subject to the Group satisfying certain standard conditions” within a period of six months.

Segun Ogunsanya, CEO Airtel Africa, said, “The final operating licence will enable us to expand our digital financial products and reach the millions of Nigerians that do not have access to traditional financial” services.

Final approval will mean that Airtel’s payment service banking platform in the country will integrate with traditional finance institutions to deepen financial inclusion. This would also apply for MTN Nigeria’s platform.

MTN Nigeria stated that “the decision to issue a final approval is firmly within the regulatory purview of the Central Bank of Nigeria” notwithstanding the approval in principle for its MoMo payment service bank application.

“MTN Nigeria affirms its commitment towards the financial inclusion agenda of the CBN and continues to explore means whereby it can contribute to its fulfilment.”

MTN has had to endure a bumpy ride in Nigeria, where it has previously been fined hefty amounts for failing to disconnected unregistered mobile subscribers.

However, in the past few days, the company has warmed up to positive developments and attainments in the west African nation after announcing this week that it is selling 575 million shares constituting a 14% stake in the Nigerian operation via a public offer to institutional investors as well as to retail investors.

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