Telecommunication companies, MTN Nigeria and Airtel have been given approval-in-principle by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to commence banking business in the country.

This development was disclosed by to the two leading communication companies, MTN which controls 40 percent market share, Airtel which has a 27 percent share of the telecoms market.

The telecoms company announced that their subsidiaries have been granted approval in principle to operate Payment Service Banks in Nigeria, in separate letters addressed to the management of the Nigeria Exchange and the telecom companies.

According to the letters, it was revealed that they have been granted approval in principle to operate.

“Airtel Africa, a leading provider of telecommunications and mobile money services, with a presence in 14 countries across, today announces that its subsidiary SMARTCASH Payment Service Bank Limited (“Smartcash”) has been granted approval in principle to operate a payment service bank business in Nigeria,” the company said in its letter.

It said the “Final approval is subject to the Group satisfying certain standard conditions within six months”.

While MTN stated that it is subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions as stipulated by the CBN, the grant of approval in principle is the first step in the process towards final approval.

MTN said: “MTN Nigeria communications PLc as promoter received an approval in principle dated 4 November 2021 from the CBN for a licence application for the proposed MoMo Payment Service Bank Limited”.

“The decision to issue a final approval is firmly within the regulatory purview of the CBN and we respect their right and judgment in that regard,” it said.

Reacting to the development, Segun Ogunsanya, CEO, Airtel Africa, said: “I am very pleased that Smartcash has been granted an approval-in-principle to operate a service bank business in Nigeria.