July 29, 2019 / 5:22 PM / 20 days ago

Nigeria's central bank awards financial services licence to MTN subsidiary

JOHANNESBURG, July 29 (Reuters) - A subsidiary of MTN Nigeria has been awarded a licence by the country’s central bank that would allow it to provide financial services, the telecoms firm said on Monday.

Nigeria announced last year that it would allow telecom companies to provide banking services, aiming to give millions of Nigerians without bank accounts access to so-called mobile money services, a policy that has been successful in Kenya.

South Africa’s MTN Group, which owns a majority stake in MTN Nigeria, said at the time it would apply for a mobile banking licence in Nigeria and planned to launch the service in 2019. Since then, MTN Nigeria listed in Lagos in May in a 2 trillion naira ($6.54 billion) debut that turned it into the exchange’s second-largest stock by market value.

MTN Nigeria’s CEO Ferdi Moolman said on Monday its Yello Digital Financial Services Limited (YDFS) unit had been granted a “full super agent” licence by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“Through the network established by YDFS, MTN is in a position to broaden the availability of financial services for the under-served across the country. This marks a very important first step in leveraging our infrastructure to scale our Fintech initiatives,” said Moolman.

“We have also applied for a Payment Service Bank Licence, which will enable us in time to offer a broader and deeper range of financial services to those communities and we remain hopeful we will receive approval shortly,” he said. He did not give specifics.

MTN runs Nigeria’s biggest mobile phone network serving around 56 million people. ($1 = 305.9000 naira) (Reporting by Nqobile Dludla, Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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