Two months after Airtel Africa was granted full Payment Service Bank (PSB) licence by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the telecom company, which has operations in 14 African countries, including Nigeria, on Thursday, launched its Smartcash Payment Service Bank, to further deepen financial inclusion in Nigeria.

Airtel Africa, six months ago, got CBN’s approval-in-principle to operate a payment service bank in Nigeria, before it was given full PSB licence two months ago.

The Smartcash Payment Service Bank, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Artel Africa, will provide secure and reliable financial services across Nigeria.

Headquartered in Lagos, it is accepting deposits from individuals and small businesses, carrying out payment and remittance services within Nigeria, and issuing debit and prepaid cards among other banking services. Smartcash also enables person-to-person payment and transfers from across the world. The service is currently available at selected retail touchpoints.

Plans are underway to expand the innovative, technology-driven services to all parts of the country, including the furthest and most remote, in an effort to accelerate financial inclusion for all Nigerians.

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Already, Smartcash targets reaching the 36.8 per cent unbanked adult population in Nigeria, as estimated by the Access to Financial Services in Nigeria report.

Speaking at the launch, Airtel Africa’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Segun Ogunsanya said: “The launch of Smartcash Payment Service Bank gives us fresh impetus at Airtel Africa, to continue growing our footprint in the continent and delivering innovative solutions. In the bank, we have the best of both worlds – a hybrid of commercial bank and mobile financial services – offering last mile connection to the financially excluded.

 Through it, we want to contribute towards driving financial inclusion in Nigeria, to empower Nigerians while transforming the payment landscape in Nigeria and the rest of Africa.’’

The Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Smartcash Payment Service Bank, Muyiwa Ebitanmi, said: “Through SmartCash Payment Services Bank, we aim to bridge the financial divide by providing rural and urban Nigerians access to innovative, highly secured and reliable banking services that is powered by technology and is relevant to their needs”.

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Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented at the launch by his Special Adviser for Social Protection, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, said the launch of Smartcash Payment Service Bank, would help the industry to explore vast opportunities in today’s digital age for the benefits of Nigerian citizens. 

“The federal government, through CBN, has developed a national financial inclusion strategy to reduce the number of adult Nigerians that are excluded from available financial services,” Osinbajo said.

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Commissioner of Finance, Mr. Rabiu Olowo, commended Airtel Africa and Airtel Nigeria for offering quality telecom services in Nigeria. He said the launch of Smartcash Payment Service Bank would revolutionise payments in Nigeria and further drive financial inclusion in Nigeria.

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