Fintech Digest: Will Mobile Money Shake Up Nigeria’s Banking Industry?

Fintech Digest: Will Mobile Money Shake Up Nigeria’s Banking Industry?

by 7 November 2021

MTN Nigeria and Airtel Africa had a substantial win in Nigeria last week, after the two mobile money players won conditional approval from the Central Bank of Nigeria to offer mobile banking services.

MTN Nigeria and Airtel Africa still have to wait for final approval, which Airtel expects will come through within six months of them fulfilling certain regulatory conditions.

The approval will let MTN MoMo and Airtel’s Smartcash to provide a range of banking services. This includes the ability to accept deposits and withdrawals, issue debit and prepaid cards, and provide digital wallet and remittance services in Nigeria.

The approval comes two years after applications were first filed, and sent the two companies’ shares soaring. After the news went public, shares of MTN Group jumped 19% in Johannesburg, a record peak since October 2015. At the time of writing, prices were up 13%.

Airtel was also up 11% in London to reach its highest trading price since it went public in 2019. At the time of writing, prices were up 11% as well.

This is big news for Nigeria’s banking and financial sector, where the competition is already heating up. Multiple innovation-driven startups have come into play in the mobile payments space, including a number of unicorns.

Meanwhile, commercial banks, including two of Africa’s biggest banks by assets Access Bank and Guaranty Trust Holding, are also moving into digital payments, as data costs drop and mobile money asserts its dominance.

In this context, the approval essentially puts another arrow in the quiver for MTN and Airtel. By stepping into banking, mobile money players may be able to bank on (pun intended) a crucial advantage to compete more fiercely with these fintechs and banks, even as mobile money continues to be a prevailing trend in Africa.

MEA Fintech News Highlights

Regional news

India’s ClearTax (rebranded as Clear) secures US$75 million for expansion into the Middle East, starting from Saudi Arabia (Fintech News Middle East).

Cross-border payments company Chipper Cash fetches US$150 million Series C extension (Fintech News Africa).

Flutterwave’s partnership spree continues with Standard Bank collaboration across 8 African countries (Fintech Futures).

African mobility fintech Moove partners with e-logistics company Lori Systems to provide vehicle financing in Africa’s trucking and logistics space (Zawya).



Nigeria’s SME lending startup Payhippo picks up US$3 million seed funding (Fintech News Africa).

Nigeria-based fintech startup Lemonade Finance raises US$725,000 in a pre-seed funding for scaling its operations (Disrupt Africa).

Nigeria-based E-Settlement acquires Côte d’Ivoire’s QuickCash for West Africa expansion (Disrupt Africa).

Nigeria’ Doroki launches Business Connect and Grow platform for SME digital payment collection and business support tools, in collaboration with Visa and Paga (Pymnts).

South Africa

south africa

South Africa-based FinMeUp raises undisclosed seed funding to further develop its current educational product and launch a new insurance and credit platform FinMeUp Wealth (Disrupt Africa).



Temenos picks up a contract with Egypt’s MIDBANK to replace the latter’s legacy systems (Fintech Futures).

Egypt-based BNPL company Sympl receives undisclosed investment from VC firm A15, its first investor (company announcement).



Open banking startup Tarabut Gateway raises US$12 million pre-Series A round led by Tiger Global (Fintech News Middle East).

Etihad Credit Insurance launches SME financing platform UAE Trade Finance Gateway, with First Abu Dhabi Bank and Crediti Fintech (WAM).

Youth banking app Edfundo to launch in the UAE by Q1 next year (Fintech News Middle East).

Emirates NBD sees 96% adoption rate for digital payments among its UAE-based corporate clients (Gulf News).



Qatar Islamic Bank introduces new features to AI-based conversational virtual assistant “Zaki” (company announcement).

Recommended Reading

Firstly, the app requires me to use my bank’s app before I am able to transact with it; so what service does it offer me that my banks don’t already offer? So it doesn’t look to me that the CBN is targeting people that do not have a bank account… The fact that I have to use my bank account to log in defeats the saying that they are going to “bank the unbanked”…”

Find out more about the e-Naira’s post-launch woes here.

“Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE also topped the charts by frequency of online purchases. In this context, the theft of financial information was the top concern amongst users in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. 47% of users cited it as a concern in Saudi Arabia, and 45% said the same in the UAE…”

Click here to read more about why illegal data collection and financial data theft have become major concerns amongst GCC consumers.

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Featured image: edited from Unsplash

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