The Central Bank of Nigeria adds Airtel Africa to its list of telecom companies to get Payment Service Bank licensing for domestic FinTech innovation. The CBN has reportedly approved Airtel’s SmartCash license request to operate digital payment service banking solutions branded as SmartCash PSB — a rivalry virtual payment system to the preexisting MTN MoMo PSB.
The SmartCash payment service provider is developed to serve financial inclusion to the Nigerian FinTech market. Several digital media houses have reportedly published the newly approved PSB operations with complete licensing by the apex bank. Meanwhile, Airtel Nigeria and the CBN have once participated in operating a FinTechs platform branded as Airtel Mobile Commerce Nigeria Ltd — a super agent PSB solutions to Nigerian banks, mobile money platforms, and customers of other licensed local FinTechs service providers.
Airtel Africa CEO, Segun Ogunsanya, also confirmed the complete PSB license by the CBN is suitable for its telecommunications operations and Airtel Nigeria’s participation in payment service banking. Airtel Africa is a conglomeration of provisional telecommunication operations in 14 countries within the continent, and Nigeria leads other vis-a-vis countries.
This depicts the Airtel’s significant presence in Nigeria backed by local licensing agencies to officially indulge in national socio-economic activities to accelerate Nigeria’s digital development.
“The Airtel Africa, a leading provider of telecommunications and mobile money services, announces that the Central Bank of Nigeria (‘CBN’) has confirmed that its subsidiary, SMARTCASH Payment Service Bank limited SmartCash, has now received final approval from the Central Bank of Nigeria for a full Payment Service Bank (‘PSB’) license, allowing the Group to deliver a full suite of mobile money services into Nigeria,” Ogunsanya said.
The CBN-approved license will enable Airtel’s SmartCash to operate any kind of FinTech services in Nigeria, including, payment services banking, issuing debit and prepaid cards, processing cash deposits, and operating e-wallets, mobile money services, etc. Likewise, will the PSB license give Airtel the chance to benefit from the FinTech sector surge?
Although Ogunsanya shared gratitude to the apex bank — he did not disclose the timing of when SmartCash will be operational. “I am very pleased that Smartcash has been approved for a full PSB license to operate a service bank business in Nigeria and we are now working towards the commencement of business.”
Airtel’s SmartCash is designed to serve the unbanked population of Nigeria based in the underserved communities in Nigeria. Remember when the CBN approved MTN Nigeria PSB license, the apex bank gave the telecom giant termed conditions to “provide at least 50% physical access points” that serves as real-time agents to resolve digital errors.
Ogunsanya continued: “This license enables us to expand our digital financial products and reach the millions of Nigerians that do not currently have access to traditional financial services. We are delighted to be able to pursue our shared agenda with the Nigerian Government, the CBN, and traditional financial institutions to further deepen financial inclusion in the country for the benefit of all citizens and the Nigerian economy.”
SmartCash will have to deploy a real-time ATM stands for some customers to withdraw money in line with the PSB license termed conditions to serve the un unbanked with accessible FinTech solutions. Still, the SmartCash PSB operations are designed to rival its counterpart aside from the commercial banks in Nigeria. Airtel Africa will announce the start-up date for SmartCash business commencement alongside the release of Airtel’s next fiscal report in May 2022.