CBN reviews mobile money rule to accommodate telcos

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is reviewing its tight regulatory policy on mobile money to make  telcos play more role in the adoption of the initiative which aims at driving financial inclusion across the country.

Under CBN’s rule, the telcos’roles have been reduced to nothing as the transactions merely passed through their ubiquitous network of infrastructure. But the apex bank said it had realised that the telcos have huge infrastructure spread across the country and could actually provide the enabling infrastructure for mobile money agents to work effectively.

Its Deputy Director, Banking and Payment System Department, 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 him, with this review, which allows for the participation of the telecommunication companies, mobile money will get a huge boost.

Already, three telcos 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, according to IT Pulse.

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 CBN, 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.