MTN, Airtel awaiting CBN's approval for payment service bank license

MTN Nigeria and Airtel Africa Plc are awaiting regulatory approval for payment service bank license (PSB) from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). 

MTN and Airtel Money mobile money agent on the edge of Kampala, Uganda (Flickr)

The two telcos stated this in their half-year financial reports posted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Friday. 

In 2018, the apex released regulations and guidelines for the operations of Payment Service Banks (PSBs) in Nigeria. Dipo Fatokun, Director, Banking & Payment Systems, CBN, had said the idea was to reduce the population of unbanked Nigerians to at least 20% by 2020.

While commenting on the company's earnings for HI 2019, Raghunath Mandava, CEO of Airtel Africa Plc, said the company will “continue to prepare for the launch of our Mobile Money business in Nigeria, securing approval of the brand name, an important step as we await approval for our payment service bank license.

On his part, MTN Nigeria chief executive Ferdi Moolman, said: “the firm would continue to work towards obtaining a payment service banking license it applied for in late 2018.

Telecom operators in Nigeria applied for payment service banks since 2018.

In a recent report, Moody's, a global investors service, said Nigerian banks will face stiff competition from fintech firms on the implementation of measures to boost USSD, mobile banking, and payment service bank.

Peter Mushangwe, a banking analyst at Moody’s, however, said Nigeria's large banks – Access, Zenith Bank, First Bank of Nigeria, United Bank for Africa Plc and Guaranty Trust Bank Plc are better positioned to defend their market shares due to larger customer bases and large technology budgets.

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