The payments unit of MTN Nigeria Communications Plc – MoMo Payment Service Bank (Momo PSB) began commercial operations on Thursday, the telecom said in a statement, the same day rival Airtel Africa announced similar move by its fintech arm SmartCash PSB.
“This is an important milestone for MTN Nigeria in our mission to support the government’s drive towards financial inclusion in Nigeria,” said MTN Nigeria’s CEO Karl Toriola.
“Not just for those in urban centres and markets, but also people in rural and remote areas of the country who remain excluded from the financial system,” he added.
The telco’s shares surged 5.64 per cent to N270 per unit on Lagos’ Custom Street on Thursday, its peak level in 52 weeks.
Currently Nigeria’s biggest company by market capitalisation, MTN Nigeria got the final approval to start MoMo PSB in April from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The permit allows the payment unit to offer several services provided by commercial banks, the notable exceptions being disallowance from issuing credit and processing foreign exchange deals.
MTN Group Limited, the Johannesburg-based parent company of MTN Nigeria, has its fintech business estimated at estimated at $5 billion, roughly twice the valuation of Airtel Africa, which stood at $2.65 billion a year ago.
Ralph Mupita, the group’s chief executive, said last year the wireless operator planned to spin off its mobile money operation from its core telecom business in a march toward unlocking hidden value.
“Providing easy to use, accessible and affordable financial services to all Nigerians is essential to executing the CBN’s financial inclusion strategy and the digital inclusion agenda of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy,” Usoro Usoro, Momo PSB CEO said.
“We look forward to playing our part and are excited about the opportunities to partner with relevant institutions across various sectors to co-create and expand access nationwide.”
MTN Nigeria reported N96.8 billion in net profit for the three months to March after revenue accelerated by more than a fifth to N471 billion.