Tuesday, July 13,
2021 / 1:00 PM / by CSL Research / Header Image Credit: Techgist Africa
In line with its mandate to drive financial inclusion, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently released guidelines and regulatory framework for the operations of Mobile Money Services (MMS) in Nigeria. This follows the previous guidelines and regulatory framework issued in 2015. In the same vein, a supervisory framework for Payment Service Banks (PSBs) geared to streamline their operations, promote transparency, and ensure adequate customer protection was also released. The framework is coming after the revised guidelines for licensing and regulation of their operations was issued in 2020.
Specifically, for MMS, the guidelines and regulatory framework focus on business rules governing the operation of mobile money services, roles of various participants and specific basic functions expected of any mobile money service and solution in Nigeria. In addition, it sets the basis for the regulation of services offered at different levels and by their participants. The Mobile Money Operators (MMOs) are to provide mobile money wallets, issue electronic money (E-money), acquire cards, manage, and recruit agents. The MMOs are not allowed to grant any form of loans, advances, and guarantees (directly or indirectly), accept foreign currency deposits, deal in the foreign exchange market except as prescribed, underwrite insurance and any other activities not set by the guidelines.
Under the PSBs, the supervisory framework focuses on corporate governance, risk management practices to be put in place, and safety of depositors' funds. They are expected to operate mostly in the rural areas and unbanked locations targeting financially excluded persons, with not less than 25% financial service touchpoints in such rural areas as defined by the CBN from time to time. PSBs are permitted to accept deposits from individuals and small businesses, carry out payments and remittances services through various channels within Nigeria, sell foreign currencies realized from inbound cross-border personal remittances to authorized foreign exchange dealers, issue debit and pre-paid cards on its name, operate electronic wallet, render financial advisory services, invest in FGN and CBN securities. In line with MMOs, PSBs are also not permitted to grant any form of loans, advances, and guarantees (directly or indirectly), accept foreign currency deposits, deal in the foreign exchange market except as prescribed, undertake any other transaction which is not prescribed by the set guidelines.
In 2012, we recall the CBN launched its financial inclusion strategy to achieve 80% financial inclusion by 2020. Despite many initiatives and interventions to extend access to financial products and services to unbanked and underserved Nigerians, it did not meet the target. According to the 2020 survey by Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFInA), data showed 51% of the adult Nigerians are financially included, an improvement from 49% in 2018.