The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it has to loosen its regulatory policy on mobile money to accommodate telecommunications companies in the country, reports Footprint to Africa.
The apex bank said it has realised that the telecom companies have huge infrastructure spread across the country and can actually provide the enabling infrastructure for mobile money agents to work effectively.
The Deputy Director, Banking and Payment System Department at CBN, Mr. Musa Itokpa Jimoh, said. “The telcos have outlets and so they can come in as super-agents, which means, we can leverage on some of these infrastructure to provide mobile financial services and that is basically what we are doing. So, all outlets of the telecommunication companies are going to act as agents.”
According to Jimoh, with this review, which allows for the participation of the telecommunication companies, mobile money will get a huge boost.
Before now, Footprint to Africa learnt that three telecommunications companies have applied for super agent to drive the mobile money scheme, which started over three years ago to provide basic financial services to Nigerians without bank accounts, as well as to help drive financial inclusion.
Three years on, adoption has been very slow in a country that boasts of over 146 million active mobile subscribers. Several surveys had attributed the slow pace of adopting the mobile money services to the low public awareness. Another challenge had been low number of agents as well as inadequate infrastructure.
The telecom companies have the platform and widespread network with which mobile money transaction can best thrive, but the apex declined to license them, saying they don’t want a clash of interest between banks and telecommunications operators.
According to the Nigeria’s apex bank, a research was conducted that revealed the telecoms operators have more subscribers and wider network area for the penetration of mobile money, but the banks have the financial strength to drive the process much better. CBN encouraged telecommunications operators to partner with licensed banks and other financial and non-financial institutions in driving the scheme, since they have the platform on which mobile money transactions will thrive.