MTN and Airtel Africa granted approval in principal to operate mobile money services in Nigeria


MTN  and Airtel Africa have been given approval in principle to operate payment service banks (PSB) in Nigeria .Airtel will operate on its Smartcash Payment Service Bank Limited while MoMo Payment Service Bank Limited will be for MTN.

The two Telcos announced the development in separate statements  in a regulatory submission on the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX). marking the first step towards obtaining final licences from the nation’s Central Bank. Although this is a provisional license, the Telcos can apply for final approval in six months.

Segun Ogunsanya, CEO, Airtel Africa, said, “I am very pleased that Smartcash has been granted an approval in principle to operate a service bank business in Nigeria. We will now work closely with the Central Bank to meet all its conditions to receive the operating licence and commence operations.

He added that, “The final operating license will enable us to expand our digital financial products and reach the millions of Nigerians that do not have access to traditional financial services.

“I am looking forward to working closely with the Government, the Central Bank and traditional financial institutions to expand financial inclusion and meet the evolving needs of our customers and the economy.”

According to Uto Ukpanah, company secretary at MTN Nigeria, “This is the first step in a long process that would lead to eventual approval. In other words, MTN Nigeria would be required to fulfil a number of conditions, even as ‘the decision to issue a final approval is firmly within the regulatory purview of the CBN.”

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

A PSB license was introduced in 2018 by the Central Bank of Nigeria to offer digital financial services to low-income earners and the unbanked.

MTN and Airtell are the biggest telecommunication companies in Nigeria.