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Airtel To Finance Service Bank Deployment From $755m Profit

Airtel Africa will spend part of the $755m profit reported for the 2022 fiscal year to fund the Payment Service Bank operations.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has given final approval for the bank.

The Chief Executive Officer,  Segun Ogunsanya, said the PSB subsidiary will be launched in coming weeks.

The company, which has presence in 14 African countries declared a profit of $755m which went up by 82 per cent from the $415m recorded in the full year of 2021.

The result is the strongest the company has posted in years and it is backed by impressive performances in the Nigeria market as well as the East African and Central African markets.

In April 2022, the Central Bank of Nigeria gave final approval to Airtel’s subsidiary SmartCash Payment Service Bank Limited to operate a PSB business in Nigeria.

With the PSB license, the network provider is expected to provide mobile financial services including: accepting cash deposits and carrying out payments and remittances, issuing debit and prepaid cards, operating electronic wallets and rendering other financial services.

Ogunsanya said, “What is so special about Nigeria is for the fact that we focus on two clear pillars, one is around distribution. We have given our distribution in rural areas. In terms of 4G infrastructure, almost all our sites have 4G capability. So, we have modernized all our sites of course we have 2G, 3G and 4G.

“We have been waiting for this for like two years, so we have already created the right distribution and infrastructure. We have implemented IT infrastructure; we have employed people.

“In the next couple of weeks, we are going to launch the business and for me, beyond creating financial returns for our stakeholders, the bigger output for me is financial inclusion.

“We really want to create a system whereby our folks in rural areas- especially women will be included in the financial community. That is a bigger objective for us. How do we support the government in creating financial inclusion making sure people all over the country whether in Sokoto or in Lagos get access to financial products beyond just owing a wallet.

“We have been investing in this for quite some time. When we announced the result, we put some money aside. It is part of the $755m we are going to spend in our 14 countries.”

Airtel is also not thinking of expanding to new markets, according to the CEO.

He said, “We are in 14 countries now, from East Africa to Central Africa and of course to Nigeria and I think we are sufficient with the growing nature of the 14 countries.

“For now, I don’t have any plans to expand beyond the 14 countries. Of course, you never say never, if there is any opportunity to profitably expand to other countries, I will look at it.”

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