Make Telecom Firms Drivers of Mobile Payment, says Airtel’s CEO

Segun Ogunsanya, managing director of Airtel Nigeria

The time has come for a review of the mobile money system in Nigeria to deepen the financial inclusion policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The current regulatory policy for the operation of mobile payment system in the country does not allow telecom firms to run their own mobile money. The policy limits their participation in providing only a supporting role to the commercial banks.

But Segun Ogunsanya, managing director of Airtel Nigeria, has called for a telecom-led model, which he claimed would be more efficient in driving financial inclusion in the unbanked segment. Ogunsanya made this call at the annual lecture of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) in Lagos.

He said that the penetration of mobile money payment system would reach its full potential and deepen retail banking in Nigeria if the regulatory restrictions barring telecom firms from operating the system are removed.

“The overwhelming majority of the adult population is unbanked; however, mobile penetration is approximately 78 per cent. The market opportunity for mobile money is therefore vast. The number of mobile money transactions has increased at a rapid rate over the past three years – further adoption will be driven by increased awareness,” he said.

Michael Lafferty, Chairman, Lafferty Group, UK, and guest lecturer at the occasion, said that retail banking should be encouraged to become a profession by ensuring that retail bankers act in the best interest of their clients at all times. “This means that retail bankers must be educated to a similar standard as accountants and lawyers, bound by a demanding ethical code and required to commit to continuing professional development,” he said.

By Dike Onwuamaeze

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