MTN CEO Shrugs of Nigeria Dispute as He Lays Out Banking Plans

MTN to acquire banking licence in Nigeria says CEO

MTN to apply for mobile money license in Nigeria

According to source, MTN Group is seeking to apply for a mobile banking licence in Nigeria and plans to launch the service there next year, its CEO said on Tuesday, further embedding the South African telecoms company in its biggest but increasingly problematic market.

The operator also faces another $2 billion tax bill emanating from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation.

A decision to transfer $800 million would come just two years after MTN paid $1 billion to Nigerian authorities as a penalty for missing a deadline to disconnect unregistered subscribers.

"The second thing we are super-excited about is the Central Bank of Nigeria 10 days ago announced a new licensing regime for payment services banks and this regime is very well suited for telcos who want to offer the kind of mobile money services that we have offered across many of our other markets".

In October, the CBN released guidelines for the payment service banks, which included a N2 million non-refundable licence fee and N5 billion capital base.

Rivals Airtel, a unit of India's Bharti Airtel, as well as privately owned Globacom and 9mobile, are also expected to apply for licenses.

But despite its fractious relationship with local regulators, Nigeria-MTN's largest market-remains a major mobile money opportunity given the size of its unbanked population.

Reuters also reported that MTN has acquired music streaming firm, Simfy.

Separately, MTN has joined forces with China's Unisoc, China Mobile Communications and Kaios, a mobile operating system, to manufacture affordable 3G phones with some smartphone features, such as YouTube and a camera, Shuter said.

The smart feature phone will be an MTN branded device available for MTN consumers, will have a price tag of $20 (R290) and be ready to purchase in the first quarter of 2019.

MTN The stock is down by more than 50 percent since the start of that first dispute, which also led to an overhaul of management and the arrival of Chief Executive Officer Rob Shuter from Vodafone Group Plc.

According to analysts, the plan to apply for a mobile banking licence next year is a clear sign MTN is committed to Nigeria into 2019 and beyond.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Rafiu Ibrahim, told newsmen yesterday when he was contacted that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) failed to implement Senate resolutions passed to it before conducting another investigation into the alleged infraction by MTN.

But for now, that doesn't appear to be on the table.

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