MTN launches mobile money in Nigeria

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Leading local operator MTN has launched a new service in Nigeria that enables subscribers to send and receive money, pay their bills and buy airtime using their mobile handsets.

The service, which is called Mobile Money, is available to users with or without bank accounts. Mobile Money is available via a partnership between MTN and GT-Bank, a local financial institution. MTN and the bank created a joint venture called GTBank Mobile Money which was one of eleven winners of mobile money licences awarded last year by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The MTN-backed venture is expected to be among the leading mobile money players in Nigeria which has the potential to be drive the popularity of such services in Africa.

MTN’s rivals in the country’s mobile money market include UK firm Monitise, a mobile banking specialist whose backers include Visa which hold a minority stake in the firm. Another mobile money licence holder is Fortis Money which is the sister company of Fortis Microfinance Bank, Nigeria’s leading microfinance institution.

Fortis signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with MTN in December 2011 whereby the bank will have access to the mobile operato’s network and distribution to offer its mobile money service. The country othe’s licensees are UBA/Afripay, Pagatech, eTranszact, Eartholeum, Paycom, FET, Ecobank and Kudi.

MTN is keen to drive the popularity of mobile money across the footprint of countries where it has a presence. In addition, in November 2011 it teamed up with Visa to offer the mobile operator’s subscribers acess to a pre-paid mobile money account. The account is called Visa Mobile Prepaid and is accessible via subscribers’ mobile handsets.