MTN and Airtel move closer to banking services in Nigeria

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Airtel Africa and MTN have received approval in principle to begin operating mobile money services in Nigeria, marking the first step towards securing final licenses from the country’s Central Bank.

The two operators announced the move in separate statements, highlighting its benefits in boosting financial inclusion in the country.

Airtel Africa explained that its Smartcash subsidiary had received initial authorization to operate a payment services banking business in the market, but a license to operate for this is dependent on the group’s ability to meet “certain standard conditions” within the six months.

Airtel Africa CEO Segun Ogunsanya promised the company would work “closely” with the Central Bank of Nigeria to fulfill its terms and begin operations.

Final approval would mean an opportunity for Airtel Africa to expand its digital financial offerings and “reach the millions of Nigerians who lack access to traditional financial services”.

MTN said its mobile money service MoMo had also received approval in principle for a license application. The operator also affirmed its commitment to the Central Bank and government’s “financial inclusion agenda”, and continued “to explore ways in which it can contribute to its achievement”.

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