MTN Group CEO Rob Shuter (pictured) announced the company will apply for a banking licence in Nigeria and planned to launch mobile money services there in 2019, Reuters reported
A launch in Nigeria fits with the company’s aim to become a leading player in financial services in Africa, but simultaneously increases its exposure to a country where it experienced a turbulent relationship with authorities
MTN is currently contesting a $2 billion tax bill and a demand for $8.1 billion from the Central Bank of Nigeria. Despite the issues, in October Shuter confirmed the company still plans to IPO its Nigeria business.
Although mobile money services are offered in many of its smaller markets, MTN’s ability to expand this to Nigeria had been complicated by regulators’ refusal to offer banking licences to communications providers. However, authorities have now reportedly softened their stance.
In its largest market of South Africa, MTN abandoned mobile money services in September 2016 due to “a lack of commercial viability”. However, in May Shuter said the company was mulling a return to financial services in its home market having previously announced aggressive growth plans for MTN Mobile Money.