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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has granted approval in principle to MTN and Airtel to operate payment service bank (PSB) across the country, aimed at further driving financial inclusion in Nigeria. CBN had since communicated the approval to both telecoms operators.

Announcing the approval, MTN in a statement Friday, signed by the Company’s Secretary, Uto Ukpanah, said: “MTN Nigeria Communications Plc (MTN Nigeria) as a promoter, received an Approval in Principle (AIP) dated 4 November 2021 from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for a license application for the proposed MoMo Payment Service Bank Limited.

This is the first step in the process towards final approval, subject to the fulfillment of certain conditions as stipulated by the CBN. The decision to issue a final approval is firmly within the regulatory purview of the CBN and we respect their right and judgment in that regard.”

MTN Nigeria, therefore, affirmed its commitment towards the financial inclusion agenda of the CBN and the federal republic of Nigeria to continue to explore means whereby it can contribute to its fulfillment.

Airtel, which also announced the approval CBN granted it to operate PSB, through a statement signed by the Group Company Secretary, Simon O’Hara, said: “Airtel Africa, with presence in 14 countries across Africa, announces that its subsidiary SmartCash Payment Services Bank Limited 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 approval, the CEO, Airtel Africa, 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.”


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