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Banks Jostle to Secure Mobile Money Licence


December 15, 2011

Following the final approval given by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to 11 operators, which include banks, to commence commercial rollout of mobile money transaction in the country, more banks are doing everything possible to ensure they are licensed to operate mobile money business in the country.

Inside sources at First Bank of Nigeria  and Ecobank who spoke to THISDAY in anonymity, said their banks had already applied to CBN for mobile money licence and that they were only awaiting the positive response from the apex bank to enable them join the existing operators.

Confirming the application of First Bank, Deputy Director in charge of Domestic Payments Division Baking for CBN, Mr. Emmanuel Obaigbona who spoke to THISDAY on phone, said First Bank was among the 16 operators initially granted approval in principles by CBN to operate mobile money.

He explained that the bank could not get final approval, because its facilities were not complete for a smooth take-off as at the time CBN granted final approval to the 11 operators, which had the required infrastructure.

He however said First Bank had,  in the last one month, put its facilities right, and that the bank was likely going to get approval soon.

According to him, “the 11 licensed operators is not the end of the list, as CBN intends to license more operators who meet the set standards for operating mobile money in the country.”

Banks that have already gotten approval and are already operational, include GTBank, the United Bank for Africa (UBA), and Stanbic IBTC Bank.

Telecommunications operators which were deprived of the privilege to operate mobile money business, are currently partnering banks and other CBN licensed operators to unveil secure platform upon, which mobile money business will thrive.

Globacom is partnering UBA and Stanbic IBTC Bank that have operational licences, with plans to extend partnership to First Bank and Eco Bank, when they eventually get their operational licences, while MTN is partnering GTBank and UBA.

Globacom, for instance, inaugurated Glo TxtCash on Tuesday in Lagos, in partnership with UBA’s Afripay known as U-Mo, and Stanbic IBTC Bank. With the unveiling, Globacom’s TxtCash will power mobile money transaction being offered by UBA and Stanbic IBTC Banks.

MTN on Wednesday also launched its mobile money platform, in partnership with GTBank and UBA.

The Central Bank of Nigeria had in 2010, introduced mobile money into the Nigerian economy and gave provisional licenses to 16 mobile money operators to carryout pilot scheme on mobile money across the country.

In August 2011, CBN released the final list of 11mobile money operators, but restricted all 11 from going commercial until they get commercial approval from CBN. CBN gave commercial approval to the 11 operators, mandating them to carryout full mobile money operations in cities and remote parts of the country.

Mobile money supports Person to Person (P2P) transfers with immediate availability of funds for the beneficiary.

Mobile payments are meant for low value transactions where speed of completion is key and it encourages cash -lite economy. The system, which is technologically driven, allows customers to transfer and receive money through their mobile phones, make deposits, and pay utility bills, even without having a bank account.


Source: Thisday / By Emma Okonji

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