Nigeria: FIRS finalises agreement with UK

Nigeria enters into a deal with E-Tech to streamline its tax collection system to benefit from improved regulation of online gambling activity.

One of the greatest benefits of the growth of online gambling for national economies is the huge income-generating potential from these online casinos in tax collection. However, in most cases, collecting tax revenue has proven to be easier said than done, especially when global businesses are operating across national borders.

In response to this challenge, the Federal Inland Revenue Service of Nigeria (FIRS) recently announced that it had signed an agreement with UK-Based Fintech company E-Technologies Global Limited in an attempt to modernise the country’s tax collection system for the digital age.

A pioneering approach to taxation

As one of the world’s foremost emerging economies, the potential for business growth across a range of sectors in Nigeria s tremendous; the country’s promise of a large, lucrative market has served to attract global companies to Nigeria markets such as Lagos in their droves. One thing all of these companies have in common, despite the fact that the are diverse, is that they are all driven by the desire to expand on the African continent.

According to Lanre Gbajabiamila, who is the Director General of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission of Nigeria, this jurisdiction has seen an exponential growth in online gaming. This is particularly evident when looking at the high demand in online casinos. It also goes without saying that players not only seek accessibility but also great game selection, quick payment methods and, of course, a good no deposit bonus.

Sadly, however, many of these potential investors have grappled with infrastructure and currency issues that have hampered their experience in the country. Moreover, these very issues are part of what stands in the way of the country realising its full potential. For this reason, Nigeria’s attempt to improve its tax collection, enforcement and monitoring system through this pioneering approach is a most welcome development.

An exciting partnership for Nigeria

FIRS’ agreement with E-Tech will allow Nigerian tax affairs to be managed using the company’s Sentinel National Payment Gateway. E-Tech’s Sentinel is a unique transaction processing system that instructs integrated payment service providers to deduct taxes or charges at the point of transaction and remits funds in real time to the treasury accounts of the Nigerian government.

As part of the broader project, the National Lottery Regulatory Commission of Nigeria has launched a new initiative to attract more ‘Tier 1’ offshore global gambling operators to entrench their commitment and position within the Nigerian market by applying for a five-year permit to offer their gaming and sports-betting services to Nigerian players legally. Furthermore, before being granted this Remote Operator Permit, all gambling operators need to comply with a full risk-based AML screening and pass the ‘fit and proper test to show their commitment to the principles of responsible gambling practice.

Once the gambling companies have been approved to operate in Nigeria, they will be able to connect to the Sentinel platform, where gaming duty will be collected through deductions on player deposits and then directly transferred to the government’s treasury account in real time. From the point of view of global gambling operators, the permit really simplifies matters as it allows them to offer online gambling services to the Nigerian market legitimately without the need to incorporate locally in-country.

Huge promise for the future

Key figures with the Nigerian administration have expressed their optimism for the future with the finalisation of this agreement to renovate the country’s tax collection apparatus. The Executive Chairperson of FIRS, Mohammed Nami, said that in light of global economic turmoil, there is a need for governments across the world to increase tax revenue as a percentage of GDP in order to fund local infrastructure and public services. He went on to say that Nigeria would need to innovate and harness the power of technology to ensure the country was taxing online businesses properly.

With regard to E-Tech’s Sentinel System, Nami said that so far, FIRS has been very impressed with how it has not only enabled them to collect tax revenue more effectively at the source but also provided the technology for more effective tax reporting and monitoring through its integration with the country’s existing TaxPro Max portal.

Gbajabiamila echoed this sentiment by highlighting how they acknowledge the huge potential that the online gaming sector provided and how the technological tools provided by the partnership with E-Tech would ensure that they could capture gaming duty at the source more efficiently and ensure it could be invested more effectively through the desired channels. Gbajabiamila went on to reiterate that Nigeria welcomes responsible offshore gaming operators and that the country’s adoption of the Sentinel system would ensure that all parties could work together more effectively for the benefit of the country as a whole.

With reference to the technology itself, E-Tech’s CEO, David Kicks, said that the company had been established to deal with the challenges facing the government in developing countries that struggled to keep up with the developments in eCommerce. He also expressed his delight in the Nigerian government’s decision to enter into a partnership with E-Tech to integrate the Sentinel System to streamline their taxation system.

The final word

In short, this partnership between FIRS and E-Tech represents a landmark moment in rapidly opening new regulated markets for responsible gaming operators. Hopefully, this deal will have hugely positive implications for the Nigerian economy and for gaming operators looking to provide services for this lucrative market. And as online gambling continues to grow globally, if this partnership proves to be a success, we may see other emerging economies following suit in a bid to benefit more effectively from tax revenue.


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