MTN, Airtel begins formal PSB operations in Nigeria

by Johnson Daniel

MTN Nigeria’s fintech subsidiary, MoMo Payment Service Bank (MoMo PSB) Limited, formally began operations yesterday after receiving final approval for a Payment Service Bank (PSB) license from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

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.

In addition, Airtel Africa announced in a stock market statement that its subsidiary SmartCash PSB had begun providing services through select retail outlets, with plans to expand across Nigeria in the coming months.

Airtel Africa received a full Payment Service Bank license from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in April through its subsidiary, after receiving in-principle approval in 2021.

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

MoMo wallets will be able to receive inbound remittances from any country in the world in the future, according to the telecommunications firm, in addition to delivering a wide range of digitized payment services aimed at removing the friction from regular payment by digitizing cash payment. This is an important feature given Nigeria’s ranking as the destination for the highest remittance inflow in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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

MTN emphasized that MoMo PSB will expand its agent network to reach Nigerians across the country, offering various payment services and removing friction from regular payment by digitizing cash payments.

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 centers 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 license allows it to provide “a full suite of mobile money services” at the time.

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

“This is the beginning of our journey to revolutionize 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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