Leading telecoms firm, MTN has received an all-clear signal to venture into digital financial services in Nigeria after securing an operating license from the country’s apex bank.
Through its subsidiary, Yello Digital Financial Services Limited (YDFS), MTN was awarded a Super Agent Licence from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), CEO Ferdi Moolman disclosed yesterday.
Apart from allowing the mobile network operator to fully deploy its financial technology (Fintech) capability, being a ‘full super agent’ will also enable the company to convert its existing airtime agents and recruit other small businesses to distribute financial services and scale the launch of its FinTech strategy.
“Through the network established by YDFS, MTN is in a position to broaden the availability of financial services for the under-served across the country,” Moolman said. “This marks a very important first step in leveraging our infrastructure to scale our Fintech initiatives.”
Moreover, having the government’s backing allows MTN to offer financial services to its growing subscribers. The company runs one of Nigeria’s biggest mobile phone network, serving around 56 million people.
Prior to securing of this license, MTN Group, which owns a majority stake in MTN Nigeria, said it would apply for a mobile banking license in Nigeria and planned to launch the service this year. The South African-based telecommunication giants had also since last year been conducting a pilot project to meet the conditions for a full license after receiving provisional approval for its Super-Agency License.
The latest development supports the federal government’s goal of achieving 80 percent financial inclusion rate by 2020. Last year, CBN announced that it would allow telecom companies to provide banking services that are aimed at giving Nigerians without bank accounts access to mobile money services in order to bridge the financial gap.
“We are very pleased that YDFS has been granted a Super-Agent Licence … This forms part of our commitment to contribute towards the achievement of Nigeria’s financial inclusion goals,” Moolman added.
The CEO further revealed that MTN also applied for a Payment Service Bank license to allow it to offer a broader and deeper range of financial services to those communities. On that, the company is hopeful of receiving approval from the CBN but did not give specific details of the license applied for.
Earlier this year, MTN Nigeria went public on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in Lagos, in a 2 trillion Naira ($6.54 billion) debut that saw it become the bourse’s second-largest stock by market value, behind Dangote Cement Plc.