MTN, Airtel begin formal PSB operations in Nigeria


Following the final approval for a Payment Service Bank (PSB) licence granted by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), MTN Nigeria’s fintech subsidiary, MoMo Payment Service Bank (MoMo PSB) Limited, formally commenced operations yesterday, the firm has disclosed.

MTN said this follows a successful pilot initiated on May 16, 2022, which was in commemoration of the launch of MTN’s GSM operations on May 16, 2001 and listing by introduction on the Nigerian Exchange Limited on May 16, 2019 and a key milestone in delivering the company’s Ambition 2025 strategic priorities.

Also, in a stock market statement, Airtel Africa announced subsidiary SmartCash PSB had started providing services through selected retail outlets with plans to expand across Nigeria in the coming months.

Airtel Africa secured a full Payment Service Bank licence from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through its subsidiary in April, having received an in-principle approval in 2021.

MTN informed that a market activation took place yesterday, at Oke-Arin market in Marina, Lagos, where traders were shown how to open a MoMo wallet, by simply dialing *671# on any network, send money to any mobile phone in the country as well as buy airtime/data and pay bills.

The telecommunications firm said in addition to delivering a wide range of digitised payment services aimed at removing the friction from everyday payment by digitising cash payment, MoMo wallets in the future will also enable account holders to receive inbound remittance from any country in the world, an important feature given Nigeria’s ranking as the destination for the highest remittance inflow in Sub-Saharan Africa.

With an expansive agent network of over 166,000 active agents and digitised partnership infrastructure, MTN claimed that MoMo PSB is poised to enable millions of unbanked and underserved Nigerians to access a wide range of financial service products.

MTN stressed that MoMo PSB will scale its agent network to reach Nigerians across the country, providing a wide range of payment services, and remove friction from everyday payment by digitising cash payment.

CEO of MTN Nigeria, Karl Toriola, said: “We are grateful to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for their support and guidance through the process. This is an important milestone for MTN Nigeria in our mission to support the delivery of financial services to everyone in Nigeria. Not just those in urban centres and markets, but also people in the rural and remote areas of the country who remain excluded from the financial system,” he added.

MoMo PSB CEO, Usoro Usoro said: “Providing easy to use, accessible and affordable financial services to all Nigerians is essential to executing the CBN’s financial inclusion strategy and the digital inclusion agenda of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy. We look forward to playing our part and are excited about the opportunities to partner with relevant institutions across various sectors to co-create and expand access nationwide.”

According to Airtel Africa, the licence allows it to deliver what it described at the time as a full suite of mobile money services.

Airtel Africa CEO, Segun Ogunsanya, pledged to revolutionise financial services in Nigeria and drive inclusion.

“This is the beginning of our journey to revolutionise the financial services landscape in the country,” Ogunsanya noted in a statement, adding it would reach “the millions of Nigerians who do not currently have access to financial services by delivering current and savings accounts, payment and remittance services, debit and prepayment cards and more sophisticated services.”

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