Airtel Africa has announced that its subsidiary, Airtel Mobile Commerce Nigeria Limited, has been granted approval in principle by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to operate as a super-agent in Nigeria.

The Group Company Secretary of Airtel Africa, Simon O’Hara, confirmed this in a statement filed with the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX), which 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 Airtel Africa representative further clarified that the super-agent licence is different from the payment service bank (PSB) licence which the telecommunications firm had earlier secured. According to him, 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 wallets 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.

It is imperative to note that the final approval for the super-agent licence is subject to the Group (Airtel Africa) satisfying certain pre-requisite conditions, one of which is the statutory minimum capital. Information on the CBN website seems to suggest that a firm must have a minimum shareholders’ fund, unimpaired by losses of N50 million, alongside other conditions, before it will be granted a super-agent licence.

Similarly, Airtel’s main rival in the Nigerian market, MTN Nigeria, had earlier obtained a super-agent license in 2019. Subsequently, the firm (MTN Nigeria) also obtained approval in principle to launch its payment service arm in Nigeria, known as MoMo Payment Service Bank Limited.

Analysts are optimistic that the granting of these licenses will help to diversify the revenue sources of the two teleco giants and will help boost Nigeria’s financial inclusion drive. Greater competition in Nigeria’s financial services space that will help lower the cost of financial services and offer a diverse range of financial products is anticipated in coming periods ahead.

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Recall that Airtel Nigeria recently obtained approval in principle from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to launch a payment service bank known as SMARTCASH Payment Service Bank Limited.