Airtel Approved to Run Payments Service Bank
By Bashir Olanrewaju
Airtel Africa, one of Nigeria’s top three phone service providers, said it obtained ”approval-in-principle” from the regulatory authorities to operate ”a paymentments service bank” through its SmartCash Payment Service subsidiary.
The company is expected to meet outstanding requirements within six months to receive a licence that will enable it to start operating fully, the Chief Executive Officer Segun Ogunsanya said.
”We will now work closely with the Central Bank to meet all its conditions to receive the operating licence and commence operations,” Ogunsanya said in a statement posted on the website of the Nigerian Exchange. ”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.”
Nigeria, unlike East Africa, has been slow to see mobile-phone companies play a prominent role in digital banking services, such a Mpesa in Kenya. With a flurry of recent developments in Nigeria’s fintech industry, MTN, the leading phone company in the country, had joined the fray with its MoMo service. Airtel does’t want to be left behind.