Airtel Africa Plc said it has obtained an approval-in-principle from Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, to launch its payment service arm in Nigeria, known as SMARTCASH Payment Service Bank Limited. According to a statement signed by the Group’s Secretary, Simon O’Hara and filed with the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX), the final approval is subject to the firm satisfying certain standard conditions within six months. It will be recalled that MTN Nigeria had said that it obtained an approval-in-principle from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to launch its proposed MoMo Payment Service Bank.
Excerpts of the statement issued by the telecommunications giant reads ‘’Airtel Africa, a leading provider of telecommunications and mobile money services, with a presence in 14 countries across Africa, 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. Final approval is subject to the Group satisfying certain standard conditions within six months.’’ Commenting on the recent development, the CEO of Airtel Africa Plc, 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 licence and commence operations. The final operating licence 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.“
Airtel Africa recently said that it is exploring potential IPO for its mobile money business in less than 4 years. The firm made the disclosure during its recently concluded investors’ presentation for its half-year result ending September 2021. It is expected that the entrance of these two major telecommunications companies into the Nigerian financial services landscape will help heighten competition and drive a more inclusive financial system, offering options for a wide range of financial services to both the unbanked, under-banked and banked populations in Nigeria.