MTN Nigeria, the country’s largest telecoms operator, has been granted a “super agent” license which allows it to set up a network through which it can provide financial services.
It’s the first step in MTN’s plans to finally roll out mobile money services in Africa’s largest economy.
The telecoms giant says it has also applied for a payment service bank license, which will allow it to “offer a broader and deeper range of financial services.”
The license comes after reforms by Nigeria’s central bank last October, permitting telecoms operators to get mobile money and banking licenses in a bid to boost financial inclusion and facilitate the long-held ambition for a cashless society.
As already seen in several African countries, the real-life application of mobile money among unbanked populations ranges from quick, seamless fund transfers to facilitating payments and boosting small businesses.
In Ghana, the service has been adopted for investing, as well as MTN selling shares for its landmark IPO mainly through mobile money.
MTN Nigeria Subscribers climbed to 61.5M according a recently released report.
The news comes as MTN Nigeria asked tax tribunal to rule on whether the company should pay corporate tax on a 330 billion naira ($1.1 billion) fine, a spokesman for the telecoms company said.
MTN Nigeria, part of South Africa’s MTN Group, was originally fined 1.04 trillion naira for failing to deactivate more than 5 million unregistered SIM cards, but it negotiated a reduced fine to clear its path to list on the Nigerian Stock Exchange earlier this year.
MTN Nigeria said it had requested the judicial review after the Nigerian tax authority, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), disagreed with the company’s accounting treatment of the fine as an operating cost.