Mobile Money in Nigeria: Operators, Opportunities and Trends

Recently I started seeing a spike in the number of inquiries made by friends, fintechs, and random other people about Mobile Money in Nigeria. And it’s not because they are suddenly having altruistic ideas for financial inclusion. Something must be cooking!

Let’s get the basics right
Mobile money is a form of banking where your account number is your mobile number. It’s as simple as that. Any other definition is an oversabi.
After the successful debut of mPesa in Kenya, many countries tried to launch their copycat mobile money system.

Unfortunately, it has been a mostly miserable failure. Some stats said less than 3% of all mobile money implementation has been successful. In Nigeria, the number is worse: 0%.

At the start of the mobile money madness, CBN gave out 23 licenses, 10 of which were by banks.

After a flurry of activities, things chilled. Banks subsequently developed acute amnesia about their licenses went back to their bread and butter: Commercial Banking.

Why and how mobile money failed will always be contentious. I have written about it, others have different opinions. The one thing we ain’t arguing about though is the fact that mobile money failed to hit the sweet spot.

New interests in Mobile Money
The emergence of fintechs has thrown open new possibilities of what can be done with moribund mobile money licenses. Most fintechs within the payment space are having a lorry load of challenges connecting to banks.
For example, a common request would be funding of payment transactions from bank accounts for which banks haven’t provided any simple APIs to work with. Those doing savings and personal financial management want to keep money in a legal way and also allow topping off investments from bank accounts. That is another problem.

Just like the way banks repurposed USSD codes meant for mobile money in 2014, fintechs are circling around banks to see how mobile money can be repurposed for better things.
Now, the list
Getting the actual list of licensed mobile money operators in Nigeria should be simple, right? Nope! You can’t even find it on CBN website if you search for it but here’s the direct link.
So, I put together the list of those I know to aid anyone.

*909# Mobile MoneyStanbic IBTC Plc
Access mobile moneyAccess Bank Plc
TinggCellulant Limited
Diamond mobileDiamond Bank Plc
EazyMoneyZenith Bank
Ecobank Mobile MoneyEcobank
FETSFunds and Electronics Transfer Solution Limited
Fidelity Mobile MoneyFidelity Bank Plc
FirstMonieFirst Bank Nigeria Plc
Fortis Mobile MoneyFortis MFB
GTMobileMoneyGTBank Plc
*Part of Vanso. Bought over by Interswitch in 2016
Interswitch Limited (formerly mKudi, a subsidiary of Vanso)
*Not operational. Site redirects to Fiserv
NowNowContec Global Infotech Limited
PagaPagaTech Limited
PayAttitudeUnified Payments Services Limited
*Bought by Opera from Telnet in 2017
Opera Software
PocketMonieTranzact Plc
Eartholeum Networks Limited
ReadyCashParkway Projects Limited
Sterling mobile moneySterling Bank Plc
Teasy MobileTeasy Mobile Limited
*Shut down. License allegedly returned to CBN
Afripay Limited/United Bank for Africa Plc
Virtual Terminal NetworkVTNetwork Limited
*Senegalese company. Acquired license in 2016
*Zoto app shut down
Hedonmarks Management Services

Other documents
The following are also critical documents for mobile money in Nigeria, especially from the regulatory perspective:

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