PSBs: CBN grants ‘approvals in principle’ to two leading telecoms companies

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Tuesday granted approvals in principle towards the licensing of payment service banks (PSBs) to two leading telecommunication services providers in Nigeria, MTN and Airtel.

The apex bank granted the green light to MTN for MoMo Payment Service Bank Limited while Airtel got the approval for its subsidiary SMARTCASH Payment Service Bank.

In a separate statements obtained by, MTN Nigeria on its own disclosed that the provisional service bank licence is the first step in a long process that would lead to eventual approval.

This simply means that MTN Nigeria would be required to fulfil a number of conditions, even as “the decision to issue a final approval is firmly within the regulatory purview of the CBN.”

MTN Nigeria expressed optimism that it would eventually get the PSB license and reaffirmed its commitment to the financial inclusion agenda of the CBN in Nigeria.

The company’s secretary, Uto Ukpanah, noted that “while we look forward to the eventful grant of a final PSB license, we will continue to communicate material information in accordance with regulatory obligations and guidelines.”

On Airtel’s part, its CEO, Mr Segun Ogunsanya said, “ I am very pleased that Smartcash has been granted an approval in principle to operate a service bank business in Nigeria. We will now work closely with the Central Bank to meet all its conditions to receive an operating licence and commence operations.

“The final operating licence will enable us to expand our digital financial products and reach millions of Nigerians that do not have access to traditional financial services.

“I am looking forward to working closely with the government, Central Bank, and traditional financial institutions to expand financial inclusion and meet the evolving needs of our customers and the economy.”

MTN and other non-financial companies have long been awaiting their PSB licenses since the Nigerian government first announced its willingness to issue them in 2018.

The announcements have been taken by industry stakeholders as a welcome development, a first step in what was deemed a financial revolution.

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