MTN mobile money approved to operate in Nigeria

One of Nigeria’s telecommunication guru, MTN, has received a provisional approval from the Nigerian Central Bank for the establishment of a mobile money service in that country.

Business Insider reports that MTN has for along time been seeking a payments service bank (PSB) license from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in a bid to provide financial inclusion to an estimated 60 million Nigerians (mostly in rural areas) who do not have access to financial services.

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The approval even though pending a substantive license later, comes as a welcome news for MTN and for Nigerians as a whole.

MTN Nigeria disclosed during its regulatory filing with the Nigerian Exchange Limited earlier on friday that, it is in the preliminary stages of a long process towards its full approval.

MTN Nigeria is being required as part of its process to fulfil a number of conditions which includes a minimum deposit of $12 million to CBN.

MTN Nigeria has expressed optimism that it would eventually get the PSB license, and further reaffirmed its commitment to the financial inclusion agenda of the CBN in Nigeria.

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MTN among other non-financial companies have long been awaiting their PSB licenses since the Nigerian Government first announced its willingness to issue them in 2018.

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With Nigeria’s population roofing over 60 million, telecom companies like MTN and Airtel look forward to take advantage of the number by providing them access to financial tools.

But the central bank has since been dragging its feet, allegedly because some Nigerian banks have been mounting stumbling blocks in the way of efforts to license mobile money operations in Africa’s most populous country. The banks were allegedly worried about what mobile money would mean for their operations, a situation the deviled the birthing of mobile money in Ghana.

The Nigerian government recently launched a Central Bank Digital Currency (eNaira), which would need digital wallets to work effectively. Even though the CBN approved the operations of some speed wallets to facilitate eNaira transactions, it seems to have found wisdom in issuing mobile money licenses that promises to deliver huge numbers of digital wallets to make the eNaira work.

In Ghana, the central bank has said it will not create any dedicated eCedi wallets because mobile money and other fintech wallets have created that service already.

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