Nigerian operators need to be given more freedom in mobile money

Nigerian operators need to be given more freedom in mobile money

Mobile networks in Nigeria need to be allowed to get more involved in the rollout of mobile money in the West African country.

Mobile money has seen rapid growth in East Africa, especially in Kenya with Safaricom’s M-Pesa service, but in other parts of the continent varying regulations has made it hard for it to reach the mainstream.

In Nigeria, telecommunications companies are not able to gain the relevant banking licenses to launch mobile money services and have to rely on third parties to manage a platform, which the operator can then leverage off, often in partnership with a bank.

But speaking during a panel discussion today (Tuesday) at AfricaCom 2013 in Cape Town, Val Amadi, senior manager of network rollout for Etisalat Nigeria, said if the country wants to reach the majority of the population, which is unbanked, then the regulators need to get the networks more involved in the process.

Amadi said: “The operators are not allowed to roll out a mobile money service. The banks are still very small in Nigeria and the unbanked population is very big.

“The operators need to be brought much closer to the process.”

Moussa Dao, director of Orange Money at Orange Botswana, agreed with Amadi.

He added: “Operators are closest to the people because that is our job and we know how to do it very quickly.

“[The best model] is for operators to manage the system, but leverage off the banks’ expertise to support us. That would satisfy the regulators over security.”

One of the reasons Safaricom has had so much success with M-Pesa is because it did not need a banking license or the cooperation of a bank to roll it out.

In Nigeria and South Africa operators are unable to move so quickly. In South Africa, they need to partner with an institution with a banking license.

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