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NCC makes U-Turn, seals deal with CBN to allow MNOs’ mobile money SPV

Finally, the most workable policy for mobile money which the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), had rejected many years ago, has now been adopted.

Otherwise, the Commission, after years of failure-driven special status operators for mobile money, has signed an agreement with the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) to allow Major Network Operators (MNOs) set up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to drive the scheme.

It was not clear if it was the sustained success story of Kenya’s Mpesa which is driven by the leading network operator, Safaricom that convinced NCC and CBN to resort to the winning strategy.

Or, the observation that the prevailing policy direction where some mobile money companies are allowed to ride on networks infrastructure to deliver the same services was not working after all.

At the launch of the mobile money operators take off in Lagos about five or six years ago, former EVC of NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah made it clear that NCC will not agree to allowing networks drive mobile money even if that will be the best option because of national security or leaving the finances of Nigerian economy technically in the hands of foreign interest.

However, analysts said the way and manner the duo of NCC and CBN have structured it by allowing all the MNOs to jointly float and operate it makes it hard for a particular network to become sole operator.

Though the seal was not sealed this week, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umaru Danbatta, made the development public while hosting the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Advocate for Financial Inclusion for Development, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, in Abuja this week.

Danbatta said a joint technical committee raised by the NCC and the CBN was also addressing the modalities that would enable mobile operators to register SPVs through which they would be become mobile money operators.

“The National Financial Inclusion Strategy sets out milestones and targets to be met to reduce the percentage of financially excluded adult population in Nigeria to 20 per cent by the year 2020.

“However, it is evident from statistics that decisive steps need to be taken to address financial inclusion in Nigeria. According to the Access to Financial Services in Nigeria 2016 Survey, 41.6 per cent of the Nigerian adult population are financially excluded, with the financially excluded population growing from 36.9 million in 2014 to 40.1 million in 2016.”

In his response, Queen Maxima said it was important that both the NCC and CBN collaborate to bring more Nigerians within the bracket of financial services and pledged the assistance of her team to help the country address challenges that would arise with the efforts towards mobile money services.