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Telecom operators seek participation in mobile money

Telecom operators seek participation in mobile money

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Ife Ogunfuwa

Major network operators in the country are soliciting  an opportunity to participate in the mobile money industry to drive financial inclusion.

MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9mobile promised to deepen financial inclusion in the next 30 months by collectively reaching 90 million Nigerians.

The telcos made this commitment at a gathering of industry players facilitated by the Academic Director and Senior Fellow at the Lagos Business School, Yinka David-West, according to a statement on Wednesday.

They noted that the progress made in financial inclusion since the issuance of the first mobile money licence in 2009 had been slow.

According to them, telcos in most sub-Saharan African markets, where mobile money is successful, are given a level playing field, while Nigerian operators are excluded.

David-West said, “Far beyond financial inclusion rates in Nigeria, we also have to examine how people currently considered to have access to financial services stack up when evaluated against the criteria for true financial inclusion, that is access to a full suite of quality financial services provided at affordable prices in a convenient manner.

“When evaluated against this definition, it is clear that as a country, we have to work, not just to drastically increase the number of financially included persons, but also to increase the quality of inclusion and access we give, especially if we hope to positively impact the economy and the quality of the lives of Nigerians in any  meaningful way.”

Speaking on the impact of the telcos’ participation in the industry, the Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria, Gbenga Adebayo, said, “According to McKinsey, as a direct result of increasing financial inclusion rates, Nigeria could realise as much as a 12.4 per cent boost in the GDP, the creation of three million new jobs, $2bn reduction in government leakages and $57bn in new credit for small and medium-scale enterprises over a four-year period.

“The telcos’ proposed intervention will not only give customers access to a variety of affordable financial products and services, but also deliver 1,000,000 direct jobs in addition to the other benefits identified by the McKinsey report. Opening up the digital financial services sector can be the basis for transformative change in the structure and sustainability of growth in the Nigerian economy.

“We acknowledge the concrete commitments the industry has made towards delivering access to financial services today as well as their commitment to financial literacy, which while vital, cannot happen in isolation of the telcos. This integrated approach, if allowed to, will deliver long-term solutions and tangible impact.”

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