Could Issuance of Mobile Money License-Impact Nigeria Online Gaming Industry?

The Nigerian apex bank (CBN) approved payment service bank (PSB) license to MTN Nigeria and Airtel Africa to offer mobile money service.

This is a massive opportunity for the Nigerian gaming industry which as evolve from being an underground industry to mainstream business and the sector is estimated to worth billions of dollars today, the Fintech, Bank Cards, ATM and Bank USSD Short Code payment has played a massive role for this exponential growth and has been the preferred choice for bettors over the years, in essence this payment method has been judiciously used by online sports betting casino, and lottery operators to accept customers deposit and make payment.

Though with the emergence of mobile money is set to stir disruption in the financial sector the success story of mobile money in sub-Saharan Africa has impact the spike of online betting and gambling particularly in the East African region which is the preferred means for sports betting enthusiast to deposit/receive payment from their favorite bookmaker, thanks to the technology as aid the gambling and betting industry through its convenience, flexibility and low fees to complete transactions with just your mobile device without needing internet connections has helped deepen financial inclusion in sub Saharan Africa.

The emergence of mobile money is evident in the African gaming industry, particularly mobile online betting and gambling, revolutionizing the sector in East Africa and not just the gaming industry. It has supported different sectors transformed businesses to experience colossal turnover. The gaming industry is the apparent sector through which online betting and gambling have experienced exponential growth in the last couple of years. According to a recent report in Kenya, Sh83.2 billion in six months from April to September 2021 was used to gamble via M-Pesa. This is a testament to the impact of mobile money. It could spike the revenue of sports betting companies and how the emergence could deepen financial inclusion and transform all sectors that have embraced digitalization. However, according to EFInA, data shows that only 64.1 per cent of Nigerians were financially included by the end of last year.

This means 38.1 million of the country’s 106 million (18 years and above) adults remain entirely excluded. This is a vast potential market that the Nigerian gaming operators in the country could explore. It is, of course, a huge market for gaming operators, eCommerce, logistics, health, and others. The decision to grant PSB approvals to the two major telecommunications firms in Nigeria is in line with the central bank of Nigeria’s objectives of enhancing financial inclusion and the development of the payment system through a secured technology-driven environment.

However, as mentioned in the article, this new move is earmarked and set to stir disruption in Nigeria and enable financial service inclusion in the rural and underserved population. An estimated 38 million adults as of 2020 who are mainly in the hard to reach rural communities are expected to have access to financial service thanks to the awaiting mobile money license for MTN and Airtel. Allowing telcos to offer financial services means that rural dwellers will hence have access to adequate financial assistance. Under the guidelines, mobile network operators give licenses to provide financial services to millions of unbanked Nigerians. Although, they can do so only as PSBs and through a subsidiary separate from their core operations. This means MTN and Airtel will be providing PSB services via their respective subsidiaries MoMo and Smartcash.

Although the critical objectives of this initiative to set up PSBs were to enhance financial inclusion by increasing access to deposit, payment, remittance services to small businesses, credit card, low-income households, and other financial excluded entities through high-volume, low-value transactions in a secured technology-driven environment. These means are more likely to meet some of the financial inclusion targets because it is evident in Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, and other countries that have leveraged the mobile money led financial inclusion model onboard. The majority of their unbanked population is primarily driven by mobile technology; Kenya’s financial inclusion expanded from a low base of 26.7 per cent a decade ago to 83 per cent in 2020. Today, the East African country is one of the world’s leaders in mobile money service, with 102 million users, 56 million in West Africa, and 20 million in Central Africa. Telecom’s operator Safaricom pioneered its M-Pesa services 12 years ago to cater to Kenyans without access to formal banking. The success story of mobile money in deepening financial inclusion is evident in a specific region.

Nigeria might go late to the party as the Central Bank only gave an official nod to telecoms and other non-financial companies to offer financial services in 2018. Nevertheless, this recent pre-approval for mobile money service in Africa’s most populous country will be a game-changer and a welcome development for gaming operators that focus solely on digitalized business operations.

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