Airtel, MTN, have been granted banking licenses
MTN Nigeria and Airtel Africa have received authorisation in principle from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to operate as Payment Service Banks (PSBs) in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s central bank has decided to provide licences to two major telecoms companies, which is consistent with the bank’s goal of increasing financial inclusion and the development of the payment system through a safe technology-driven environment.
A statement acquired from the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) website stated that MTN Nigeria received permissions from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on November 4, 2021, for a license application for the projected MoMo Payment Service Bank Limited, which will be incorporated.
As stated in the announcement, the permission served as the first stage in the process leading to a final approval, which was contingent on the fulfillment of certain requirements established by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
This decision to provide final permission is well within the regulatory ambit of the CBN, and we accept their authority and judgment in this matter.”
“MTN Nigeria reaffirms its commitment to the CBN’s and the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s financial inclusion agendas, and it continues to seek ways in which it can help to their realization. “While we await the final award of a PSB license, we will continue to disseminate important information in accordance with our regulatory requirements and rules,” MTN said in a statement.
In a similar spirit, Airtel Africa announced in a statement that its subsidiary SMARTCASH Payment Service Bank Limited (“Smartcash”) has been granted approval in principle to run a payment service bank business in Nigeria, following a successful application.
“I am quite pleased that Smartcash has been granted approval in principle to run a service bank company in Nigeria,” the statement stated. “We will now work closely with the Central Bank to ensure that we meet all of its requirements in order to get the operating licence and begin operations,” said Segun Ogunsanya, CEO of Airtel Africa.
“The final operating licence will enable us to grow our digital financial products and reach the millions of Nigerians who do not have access to traditional financial services,” Ogunsanya continued. Working cooperatively with the government, the Central Bank and traditional financial institutions to increase financial inclusion while also meeting the changing demands of our consumers as well as the economy is something I am looking forward to.”
It is stated by the company that the final clearance is conditional on the Group meeting certain standard conditions within a six-month time frame.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) released operational rules for public sector banks (PSBs) in the fourth quarter of 2018. As part of the Bank’s mandate, which includes supporting a healthy financial system and increasing access to financial services for low-income earners and unbanked parts of society, the move was made to achieve that mission.
According to the guidelines, public sector banks (PSBs) should concentrate their operations in rural areas and unbanked areas, primarily serving financially excluded people, with not less than 25 percent of their financial service touch points in rural areas as defined by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from time to time.
To increase financial inclusion by increasing access to deposit products and payment/remittance services for small businesses, low-income households and other financially excluded entities through high-volume low-value transactions in a secure technology-driven environment, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) established payment service providers (PSBs).
They are also expected to form direct partnerships with card system operators, however such cards will not be eligible for foreign currency transactions in the first instance.
Additionally, they will be allowed to operate through banking agents (in accordance with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Guidelines for the Regulation of Agent Banking and Agent Banking Relationships in Nigeria) and will be able to deploy ATMs in certain of these regions as well as Point of Sale devices.