MTN Airtel begin formal Mobile Money operations in Nigeria

Mobile money operation begins in Nigeria after years of service penetration in Africa, particularly East Africa. The country has been sceptical about issuing mobile money payment licenses to telecom operators.

However, following the final approval for a Payment Service Bank (PSB) license granted by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), MTN Nigeria’s fintech subsidiary, MoMo Payment Service Bank (MoMo PSB) Limited, formally commenced operations for mobile money service the firm has disclosed. MTN said this follows a successful pilot initiated on May 16, 2022, which was in commemoration of the launch of MTN’s GSM operations on May 16, 2001, and listing by introduction on the Nigerian Exchange Limited on May 16, 2019, and a key milestone in delivering the company’s Ambition 2025 strategic priorities. Also, in a stock market statement, Airtel Africa announced that the subsidiary SmartCash PSB had started providing services through selected retail outlets with plans to expand across Nigeria in the coming months. Airtel Africa secured a full Payment Service Bank license from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through its subsidiary in April and has received an in-principle approval in 2021.

MTN informed that a market activation took place, at Oke-Arin market in Marina, Lagos, where traders were shown how to open a MoMo wallet, by simply dialling *671# on any network, send money to any mobile phone in the country as well as buy airtime/data and pay bills.

The telecommunications firm said that in addition to delivering a wide range of digitized payment services aimed at removing the friction from regular payment by digitizing cash payment, MoMo wallets in the future would also enable account holders to receive inbound remittance from any country in the world, an important feature given Nigeria’s ranking as the destination for the highest remittance inflow in Sub-Saharan Africa.

With an expansive agent network of over 166,000 active agents and digitized partnership infrastructure, MTN claimed that MoMo PSB is poised to enable millions of unbanked and underserved Nigerians to access a wide range of financial service products.
MTN stressed that MoMo PSB would scale its agent network to reach Nigerians across the country, providing a wide range of payment services and removing friction from regular payment by digitizing cash payment.

CEO of MTN Nigeria, Karl Toriola, said:

“We are grateful to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for their support and guidance through the process. This is an important milestone for MTN Nigeria in our mission to support the delivery of financial services to everyone in Nigeria. Not just those in urban centres and markets, but also people in the rural and remote areas of the country who remain excluded from the financial system,”

MoMo PSB CEO Usoro Usoro said:

“Providing easy to use, accessible and affordable financial services to all Nigerians is essential to executing the CBN’s financial inclusion strategy and the digital inclusion agenda of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy. We look forward to playing our part and are excited about the opportunities to partner with relevant institutions across various sectors to co-create and expand access nationwide.”

According to Airtel Africa, the license allows it to deliver what it described at the time as a full suite of mobile money services.

Airtel Africa CEO, Segun Ogunsanya, pledged to revolutionize financial services in Nigeria and drive inclusion.

“This is the beginning of our journey to revolutionize the financial services landscape in the country,” Ogunsanya noted in a statement, adding it would reach “the millions of Nigerians who do not currently have access to financial services by delivering current and savings accounts, payment and remittance services, debit and prepayment cards and more sophisticated services.”

Interestingly, will mobile money’s emergence spur the growth of online sports betting and gaming in Nigeria?

Mobile money penetration in Africa has been the bedrock of success for many industries in Africa, especially in East Africa, which has experienced exponential growth in mobile money penetration providing financial inclusion and aiding the development of the igaming industry in Africa. This has been instrumental to a great customer experience in the betting and gaming market with comfort and flexibility. The cheaper service most mobile money operators provide has allowed players to make deposits/receive payments using their mobile money accounts.

However, the MoMo’s potential reaches The MoMo PSB will leverage MTN’s existing presence and structure within Nigeria to reach many rural, mostly unbanked dwellers of the country and provide a wide range of services. Analysts believe that this will break the barriers experienced by the other inclusion project by the government and many other corporations. According to the report, with an expanded agent network of over 166,000 agents and digitized partnership infrastructure, the fintech PSB is positioned to enable millions of unbanked and underserved Nigerians to access a wide range of financial service products.

However, as part of MTN’s MoMo PSB signifies expansion, MoMo wallets will be able to receive inbound remittance from any country in the world in the future, according to the telecommunications firm, in addition to delivering a wide range of digitized payment services aimed at removing friction from regular payment by digitizing cash payment. This is an important feature given Nigeria’s ranking as the destination for the highest remittance inflow in Sub-Saharan Africa. It will be a game-changer for all sectors, particularly aiding the growth of online gaming and betting in Nigeria.

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