Nigeria Telecommunication giants, MTN and Airtel, have been given approval-in-principle by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to commence banking operations in the country. ayokinews.com reports
This was made public by the two leading telecommunications giants in Nigeria on Friday, in separate letters addressed to the Nigerian Exchange, clearly stating that its subsidiaries have been granted approval-in-principle by the CBN to operate Payment Service Banks in Nigeria.
“Airtel Africa, a leading provider of telecommunications and mobile money services, with a presence in 14 countries across, today announces that its subsidiary SMARTCASH Payment Service Bank Limited (“Smartcash”) has been granted approval in principle to operate a payment service bank business in Nigeria,” the company stated in its letter.
It mentioned that the “Final approval is subject to the Group satisfying certain standard conditions within six months”.
In another letter written by MTN, the company said: “MTN Nigeria communications Plc. as promoter received an approval in principle dated 4 November 2021 from the CBN for a license application for the proposed MoMo Payment Service Bank Limited”.
In the letter MTN said that the grant of approval-in-principle by the CBN was the first step in the process towards final approval, which is subject to the fulfillment of certain conditions as stipulated by the Apex bank (CBN).
“The decision to issue a final approval is firmly within the regulatory purview of the CBN and we respect their right and judgment in that regard,” MTN said.
Commenting on the new development, the CEO, Airtel Africa, Segun Ogunsanya, 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 license and commence operations”.
Segun stated that the approval of the final operating license will enable Airtel Nigeria in expanding its digital financial products and services to reach the millions of Nigerians that do not have access to the 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,” he said.
In its response, MTN Nigeria affirmed the company’s commitment towards the financial inclusion agenda of the CBN and the Federal Republic of Nigeria while promising to continue to explore means whereby it can contribute to its fulfillment.
MTN said, “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.”
The granting of banking licenses by the CBN to the telecoms will set off a new competition between them and the commercial banks.