The Central Bank of Nigeria has prohibited Mobile Money Operators (MMOs) from accepting airtime as a deposit or form of payment, as the country strives to expand banking coverage through MMOs.
The CBN stated this in a new set of guidelines for Mobile Money Services in Nigeria, which was published on July 9.
The CBN said MMOs will not “Accept any closed scheme electronic value (e.g. airtime) as a form of deposit or payment.”
CBN further stated that they are not permitted to issue any loans, advances, or guarantees, in addition to the restrictions on airtime (directly or indirectly).
MMOs were also barred from accepting foreign currency deposits and dealing in the foreign exchange market unless they followed Section 4.1 (ii) and iii) of the existing Guidelines for Licensing and Regulation of Payment Service Banks in Nigeria.
In addition, the apex bank stated that it will not engage in insurance underwriting or own subsidiaries.
But the bank said MMOs would carry out the activities of wallet creation and management; e-money issuing; agent recruitment and management; pool account management.
MMOs will also engage in the business of non-bank acquiring as stipulated in the regulatory requirements for non-bank merchant acquiring in Nigeria; card acquiring; and any other activities that may be permitted by the CBN.
With the growth of fintech in the country, CBN in 2019 licensed 22 MMOs to commence operation.
The likes of Opay with over 300,000 agents and 5 million users across the country received its license in 2019.
MTN Nigeria operates as a mobile money operator (MMO) under the moniker MoMo, whereas banks such as First Bank of Nigeria use the name FirstMonie.