The Central Bank of Nigeria has granted its approval in principle for the local units of Airtel Africa and MTN to receive Payment Service Bank (PSB) licences.
Final approval for the licences is subject to the operators meeting some standard criteria within the next six months.
MTN confirmed that it plans to implement its MoMo offering, issuing a statement that the operator “affirms its commitment towards the financial inclusion agenda of the CBN and the Federal Republic of Nigeria and continues to explore means whereby it can contribute to its fulfillment. While we look forward to the eventual grant of a final PSB license, we will continue to communicate material information in accordance with regulatory obligations and guidelines.”
TeleGeography reports that Airtel plans to offer services via its Smartcash subsidiary. Segun Ogunsanya, CEO of Airtel Africa, said: “We will now work closely with the Central Bank to meet all its conditions to receive the operating licence and commence operations. The final operating licence will enable us to expand our digital financial products and reach the millions of Nigerians that do not have access to traditional financial services.”
Local news outlet The Guardian reported that the CBN laid out operational guidelines for PSBs in Q4 2018, with the goal of increasing access to financial services among unbanked segments of Nigeria’s population. PSBs will operate predominantly in rural areas, targeting financially excluded demographics and small/medium enterprises with services including payments, remittance and deposits.