Telecom firm, MTN, has received final approval from Nigerian regulators to run a payment service bank, the wireless carrier said in a regulatory filing on Monday.
“The date of commencement will be communicated to the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) in accordance with its requirements,” the telco heavyweight said of the bank to be known as MoMo Payment Service Bank Limited in a note to the Nigerian Exchange.
The approval, the fruit of well over two years of waiting for the permit, gives the local unit of Johannesburg-headquartered MTN Group Limited the leave to operate virtually all the services offered by conventional commercial banks with the exception of granting credit and processing foreign exchange transactions.
“We want to leverage the financial inclusion drive. We plan to give people who don’t have bank accounts or even ATM cards the opportunity to be able to do banking services,” a senior official of the telco told PREMIUM time on condition that its identity will not be divulged because of the sensitivity of the matter,” Nigeria’s biggest company by revenue said.
“And we are leveraging on our size. When we have subscribers of over 70 million spread across Nigeria with our infrastructural spread, we are well positioned to cover everywhere. That’s exactly what we want to achieve.”
MTN Nigeria and Airtel Africa, which got preliminary approvals last November to operate in the same space, will be looking to tap Nigeria’s unbanked adult population of 38 million people, who according to Abuja-based media research house and data analytics firm, held N26.2 trillion last year alone, a move that will pit both telcos against traditional banks in getting a slice of the market.
Shares in the telco were up by 0.34 per cent at 12.19 WAT on Lagos Customs Street on Monday, trading at N206 per unit.
The broad scale of MTN’s broadband penetration gives the two an open reach to rural Nigerians and urban places without access to banking services by way of connectivity, a luxury conventional banks cannot afford.
The ubiquity of coverage of the telcos mean banking will no longer be the preserve of commercial lenders, a development that could position the latter to take a big bite at the e-business earnings of conventional lenders at a time most banks are struggling to sustain profit growth.