In a partnership that should provide a boost to financial inclusion in Nigeria, the country’s fourth largest bank has signed a deal with Airtel Nigeria to run its mobile money service on the operator’s network.
Customers who sign up with the new service will be able to use a mobile phone to pay for a wide range of services, withdraw funds from any Access bank ATM without a card, or receive money through agents nationwide.
Group Managing Director of Access Bank Herbert Wigwe said the mobile payment platform, Access Money, was introduced in line with the the financial inclusion initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“It is something that reaches new groups of people and helps them to build and grow the success stories of tomorrow. And it’s something we are proud to champion,” said Wigwe.
While mobile money has been successful in some parts of Africa, the money market in Nigeria is still proving elusive to this kind of financial innovation.
“Nigeria is not a hospitable place for mobile payments,” MasterCard said in its recently released Mobile Payment Readiness Index (MPRI). “The regulatory environment, the legal system, the technology grid, and the banking system lag their sub-region and global counterparts.”
In Kenya, close to Sh2 trillion (about $23 billion) was moved last year via 733 million mobile transactions, the country’s Central Bank said. Zambia’s Central Bank also reported last year that the country’s mobile money accounts had reached 3.4 million compared to 2 million bank accounts.
This new partnership may be able to move Nigeria a little further towards these sorts of figures, deepening financial inclusion and bringing more Nigerians into the formal financial system.
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