CBN grants Airtel final approval for full Payment Service Bank licence

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has granted final approval for Airtel subsidiary, SMARTCASH Payment Service Bank limited (‘Smartcash’) to operate a Payment Service Bank (‘PSB’) in Nigeria.

This was disclosed in a press release posted on the website of the Nigerian Exchange Group today titled, “Nigeria PSB Full Licence Approval”, signed by Simon O’Hara, Group Company Secretary.

The CBN had earlier granted Airtel’s subsidiary Airtel Mobile Commerce Nigeria Ltd a full “super agent” license on Tuesday, allowing it to serve customers of Nigerian banks, payment service banks, and licensed mobile money carriers.

What Airtel is saying

The press release reads “The Airtel Africa, a leading provider of telecommunications and mobile money services, with a presence in 14 countries across Africa, today 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’) licence, affording the Group the opportunity to deliver a full suite of mobile money services into Nigeria.”

Segun Ogunsanya, CEO, Airtel Africa, said: “I am very pleased that Smartcash has been granted approval for a full PSB licence to operate a service bank business in Nigeria and we are now working towards the commencement of business.”

He stated that the license would enable Airtel to reach the unbanked and promote the apex bank’s agenda of financial inclusion.

He said “This licence 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.”

What you should know

  • Airtel’s complete PSB license would allow it to operate financial services in Nigeria, including receiving cash deposits, processing payments and remittances, issuing debit and prepaid cards, operating electronic wallets, and other services.
  • Airtel is intended to operate in rural areas and in areas where Nigerians do not have access to banking services. In rural areas, they are also mandated to provide at least 50% physical access points (sometimes known as kiosks).
  • In some of its locations, Airtel may also have ATMs. Customers can withdraw cash as a result of this.
  • A PSB and a traditional commercial bank share the ability to take customer deposits and invest a portion of those deposits in short-term CBN or FG products.
  • More information about the start of operations will be released with Airtel’s full-year results announcement in May 2022, according to the company.
  • The CBN had earlier granted MTN the final approval to operate as Momo Payment Service Bank Limited (Momo PSB) this month.

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