Airtel confirms plans to establish Payment Service Bank

Nigeria’s second largest network operator, Airtel, has confirmed plans to establish a Payment Service Bank in order to promote financial inclusion in the country.

The telco, in a statement issued on Wednesday, said that it would apply for the PSB licence through a subsidiary as directed in the Central Bank of Nigeria’s guidelines, adding that it had a vision of becoming the largest and most secured PSB in Nigeria.

The company commended the apex bank for issuing guidelines for licensing of PSBs, saying the move would enhance access to financial services to the rural poor, low-income earners and the financially- excluded in the society.

The Federal Government had initiated a financial inclusion strategy that aims to reach 80 per cent of the adult population and achieve formal financial inclusion rate of 70 per cent of the adult population by 2020.

With a subscriber base of over 40 million customers and its retail footprint across major nooks and crannies of the country, Airtel said it intended to leverage its distribution to drive financial inclusion among the unbanked and financially excluded.

Commenting on the CBN guidelines for mobile banking licence, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Segun Ogunsanya, said, “We welcome the development and we express profound appreciation to the CBN for its commitment to driving financial inclusion through technology.

“In line with the guidelines shared by the CBN, we have commenced the process of applying for a licence as we believe that we are at a vantage position to empower and connect more Nigerians as well as deliver mobile banking services to the doorsteps of the financially excluded. Folks will no longer need to keep their money inside cooking pots or under their beds because we will securely connect them to the financial system.”

MTN, in November, had announced the plans of the company to apply for a mobile banking licence in Nigeria and launch the service in 2019.

The CEO of MTN Group, Rob Shuter, while addressing a conference in Cape Town said, “We will be applying for a payment service banking licence in Nigeria in the next month or so, and if all goes according to plan, we will also be launching Mobile Money in Nigeria probably around Q2 of 2019.”

Telecom operators in Africa have recorded tremendous reach with mobile money services on the continent due to their large customer base, existing distribution network and mobile phone penetration.

At the centre of the mobile money growth in Africa are Safaricom’s M-Pesa, MTN Mobile money, Orange Money, Tigo Pesa, Vodafone Cash and Airtel Money.

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