Nigeria: New mobile money licences underway

Mobile money, Nigeria06 November 2014, Abuja – GOING by feelers from the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, there are plans by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to license more mobile money operators in the country.

It was learnt that the CBN has received proposals from about seven firms in the country, with a target of expanding the mobile money sub-Sector in Nigeria.

A CBN source, who spoke to The Guardian, said the firms bidding to become mobile money operators are very indigenous in nature, stressing that the apex bank is currently considering the proposals submitted “and whosever meets the requirements will be licensed to operate.”

The source said the CBN is happy that more firms are indicating interest in expanding the cash-less economy initiative, stressing that the apex bank is still very committed to maintaining a bank-led mobile money scheme in the country.

This plan by the apex bank to license more mobile money operators was however, confirmed by the Deputy Director, Payment System Department, CBN, Jimoh Musa Itopa at a forum in Lagos at the weekend, where he said that more Nigerian firms have submitted proposal to the apex bank to become an operator. “I can confirm to you that CBN will explore all needed avenues to drive financial inclusion and boosts the cash-less economy initiative. Already, several firms have submitted proposals to the apex bank to become mobile money operator. The CBN is looking at their proposals and I believe new licenses will be issued soon.”

Itopa said about 21 mobile money operators were licensed to operate in the country currently.

Some of the licensed operators include AfriPAY; GTBank; FirstMonie; PocketMoni; PagaTech; Fortis Mobile Money; Stanbic IBTC; Monitize; FETS; Ecobank; Eartholeum; Teasy Mobile; Mkudi – Mimo; Zenith Bank with EazyMoney; PIDO (Payment Irrespective of Distance or Obstacles); VTNetwork; Cellulant; Glo Xchange among others.

A recent Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Service (NIBSS) statistics showed that indeed there are 21 operators of mobile money in Nigeria, which share 9.139 million customers as at June 2014.

It also informed that about 40, 875 agents have so far enrolled with different operators to expand the services.

In terms of total transaction volume as at the period under review, about 12.58 million deals were done, estimated to worth about N139.7 billion.

Meanwhile, a Philip Consulting report observed that that despite the huge potential of mobile money in Nigeria and the wide range of functionalities, it is clear that MMOs are struggling to make an impact in the country in terms of investments in agency network, technology and marketing.

The report discovered that the majority of survey respondents (over 60 per cent) know about mobile money, stressing that most of these people are in the 26 – 35 years age group and earn more than N1 million monthly. On the other hand, the report said those who do not know about mobile money are also mostly in the 26 – 35 years age group and earn less than N50,000 monthly.

On the rate of adoption, the report said majority of the respondents (over 70 per cent) were not registered with a mobile money operator.

According to it, the main reason given for this was a lack of information on mobile money services and the least cited reason was a lack of need for the service.

Philip Consulting said of the total number of respondents who know about mobile money, only 29 per cent are registered with any of the MMOs while the remaining 71 per cent are not.

The report noted that the number of people registered with MMOs seems to have undergone a year on year growth since the service was introduced.

Specifically, in 2010, six per cent of the survey respondents registered with an MMO. This increased to 14 per cent in 2011, 40 per cent in 2012 and another 40 per cent as at August 2013.

For respondents who are not registered with any MMO, the report discovered that lack of information (29 per cent), safety issues/concern with security of account information (27 per cent), reliability issues/concern with effective transaction processing (23 per cent) and a lack of interest/need for the service (17 per cent) were cited as the reasons for non-registration.

According to Philip Consulting, although the rate of adoption of mobile money appears to be quite low, the potential for the service is high. It noted that in addition to the fact that more people have mobile phones than bank accounts in Nigeria; an increasing number of people are choosing to carry out financial transactions on their mobile phones, instead of at the bank or on their computers/laptops.

The report noted that while the potential for mobile money in Nigeria is huge, there is much room for improvement if it is to really drive ongoing efforts to integrate the millions of Nigerians in rural areas with a stable, secure and structured means of carrying out financial transactions.

“ICTs play a central role in our vision 20:20:20 strategic plan. President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s commitment to the task of transforming the Nigerian Economy into a knowledge based Economy via ICTs is an open secret. The President in recognition of the crucial and strategic role ICTs play in national development, in July 2011, created the Ministry of Communication Technology to facilitate the transformation of Nigeria into a digital economy.

“In Nigeria today, the ICT sector is the 4th pillar of the economy in terms of its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The sector is the fastest growing and currently contributes 10.44 per cent to GDP in 2013. To fulfill the vision of government for Nigeria in the area of ICT, the ministry is focusing on four priority areas- Infrastructure Development, Inclusive Development, Local Content and IT in Government and broadband is a key tool in achieving these priorities”, she stated.
*Adeyemi Adepetun – Guardian

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