By Adedeji Fakorede
Contrary to speculations making the rounds that Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is planning to license Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to operate Mobile Money business.
They will be given approval to operate as Super Agent as the CBN had decided to review its policy on mobile money to accommodate the telcos because it realised that they (telcos) have huge infrastructure and actually provide the enabling infrastructure for mobile money agents to work.
Emmanuel Okoegwale, Principal Associate, Mobilemoney Africa, said that there is a fundamental difference between licensing and approvals.
“I believe the MNOs will be granted an approval to operate within certain and clear rules as mandated by the regulator as super agents to the licensed providers with limits to what they can offer like not having their own customers. MNOs approvals to operate super agency will leverage current licensees and it is not a license on its own to operate and own mobile money customers as some people may have believed. It is to serve the customers of licensed providers and if well implemented and managed, it will impact positively on the industry,” he said.
It would be recalled that mobile money experts have stressed the need for telecommunications operators to be directly involve in the mobile money ecosystem to enable greater growth.
According to them, “Overall in Africa, mobile financial services and remittances are on the upswing in Countries like Kenya and Zimbabwe and a couple of East African nations. We are already right in the end of 2015 and our expectation in Nigeria is still same, increased uptake, awareness, growth and adoption of mobile financial services. The agency aspect of the ecosystem is still very much underdeveloped aside some little efforts here and there. Growth and availability of the agency network is a major hinderance to the adoption and success of the scheme in Nigeria.”
Okoegwale added that Banks already have most of the services available via mobile money through mobile banking, online banking etc.
Mr. Musa Itokpa Jimoh, Deputy Director, Banking and Payment System Department, CBN “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.”