This video featured an interview with a mobile money agent who has provided agent training for several mobile money deployments in Nigeria including Mobile Money powered by MTN. MTN had to suspend their service in late 2012 since the Central Bank's guidelines prohibit mobile network operators (MNOs) from playing a lead role in any mobile money service in Nigeria. After seeing the virtual monopoly created in Kenya under Safaricom's MPESA, the Central Bank of Nigeria decided that allowing a lead mobile money issuer owned and operated by a mobile network operator could create a monopoly and pose a systemic risk for Nigeria and decided instead to allow banks and non-bank non-MNO led third party operators to offer mobile money services to encourage a level playing field that allows users to utilize mobile money across any mobile network. While the reasons provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria are sound ones, it has not been without controversy. Based on the views of this agent and discussions with others in Nigeria, it is quite clear that if MTN was allowed to offer mobile money services directly to its subscribers it probably would have dominated the market place and we would have seen a much more rapid take up of mobile money across Nigeria. While personally, I understand the argument and concern of the Central Bank of Nigeria, it would have been interesting to see what might have happened if MTN and other MNOs offered mobile money directly to their subscribers via their agent networks in Nigeria. This agent for one argues quite strongly in favor of allowing companies like MTN to offer mobile money directly. In the meantime, however, MTN has come out quite clearly to support the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)'s bank-led mobile money model:

“We are supportive of any initiative that brings financial inclusion to the masses and the Central Bank’s efforts in this regard are highly commendable,” MTN’s Corporate Services Executive Akinwale Goodluck said in a statement.

According to him, “The world today is heavily dependent on ICT. Our future success as a company depends on how well we support services like mobile money.”

He added that “The current partnership between banks and telecommunications operators in the mobile money space leverages available cutting edge Information and Communications Technology (ICT) offered by the telecommunications operators and best practice payment protocols and expertise supervised by the CBN.” Quotes taken from the article:

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