Airtel Mobile Commerce Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Airtel Africa, has obtained approval in principle from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to operate as a super-agent in Nigeria. This is coming barely few weeks after the telecommunications giant had obtained an approval to launch its payment service bank in the country, known as SMARTCASH Payment Service Bank Limited.
By way of distinction, the super-agent licence will enable the telco giant to create an agent network that can service the customers of licensed Nigerian banks, Payment service banks and licenced mobile money operators in Nigeria
This was confirmed by the Group Company Secretary of Airtel Africa, Simon O’Hara, in a statement filed with the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX), which partly reads: ‘’ Airtel Africa, a leading provider of telecommunications and mobile money services, with a presence in 14 countries across Africa, today announces that its subsidiary Airtel Mobile Commerce Nigeria Ltd has been granted approval in principle by the Central Bank of Nigeria to operate as a super-agent in Nigeria.’’
The telco giant further disclosed that the final approval for the super-agent licence is subject to the Group (Airtel Africa) satisfying certain standard conditions, one of which is the statutory minimum capital. According to the information made available on the CBN website, all telco firm that desire to operate as a super-agent must have a minimum shareholders’ fund, unimpaired by losses of N50 million, alongside satisfying other statutory conditions.
Is the super-agent licence different from the payment service bank (PSB) licence?
It is pertinent to note that the super-agent licence is different from the payment service bank (PSB) licence which the telecommunications firm had earlier secured. The PSB licence is required for Airtel to be able to provide financial services in Nigeria such as; accepting cash deposits and carrying out payments and remittances, issuing debit and prepaid cards, operating electronic wallet and rendering other financial services.
On the other hand, the super-agent licence will enable the teleco giant to create an agent network that can service the customers of licensed Nigerian banks, Payment service banks and licenced mobile money operators in Nigeria.
Similarly, Airtel major rival in the Nigeria market, MTN Nigeria, was the first to obtain a super-agent license as far back as 2019. Subsequently, the firm (MTN Nigeria) also obtained an approval in principle to launch its payment service arm in Nigeria, known as MoMo Payment Service Bank Limited.
What does this mean to an average Nigerian?
Analysts at naijabusiness.com.ng strongly believe that the entrance of these two major telecommunications company into the Nigerian financial landscape will further help to drive competition in that space, which in the long run will lead to a relatively lower cost of financial services and the availability of diverse range of financial products. Recall that availability of different range of financial products and affordability are a major source of concern for financial inclusion advocates and policy makers in that regards. In this light, the entrance of these two major players might just be a game changer to achieving the revised National financial inclusion strategy targets for the year 2024.
Additionally, the major development will help diversify the revenue sources of the companies involved, as we might likely see the two telecos declare higher profits by the year end. Higher profits means higher taxes to the government, a factor that might better enhance the government capability to offer more social and welfare services to the populace.
Lastly, these new license creates possibilities for new jobs to be created in the country, as the telecos will demand more hands to offer these essential financial services to the teeming Nigerian population, thereby bridging the unemployment gap in the country.