Nigeria is unlikely to follow the Kenyan blueprint for mobile money licensing regulation. The deputy governor of operations at the Central Bank of Nigeria, Tunde Lemo, has dismissed models such as the one employed by Safaricom’s M-PESA service, claiming that they encourage market monopolies.
Although Nigeria has seen considerable public demand for mobile operators to provide mobile money services, Lemo stated that they would not receive licences to do so, saying “we cannot license telcos [to provide mobile money services] because they lack the capacity to do so.”
Clarifying his statement, he added that Nigeria would license mobile money service providers who could then come to an agreement with an operator over how to provide the technological platform for the business. This model would prevent mobile operators from holding the mobile money market to ransom.
Lemo noted that if licensed, mobile service providers “would make it extremely difficult for the other operators using their platforms optimally because they would be seen as competitors.”
He added: “I am sure if the Kenyan central bank had to do it again, they would do it differently because what M-PESA has done is to create one big monopoly for the country. A single operator controls 90% of that country’s mobile money payment, is not really good enough for any economy.”
Nonetheless, Safaricom’s M-PESA is frequently heralded as a great success story for mobile money, with the model observed by many similar services globally.