Mobile money is the driving force for financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa. In a 2020 report, the GSMA identified Nigeria as one of ‘Africa’s sleeping mobile money giants’— an assessment made in view of the country’s adult and unbanked population as well as the lack of Telco mobile money operations. There was an expressed optimism as the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Approvals in Principle (AIP) granted three Telcos in 2019 permissions to act as Payment Service Bank (PSB) as this would stimulate the rapid adoption of mobile money in Nigeria.
But the reality is falling very short of expectations and potential. Between May 19, 2022 to June 30, 2022, according to MTN Nigeria’s half year report, MoMo PSB registered 2.4 million actives (out of 4.2 million) wallets. 57% active rate within barely 49 days of launch is not much better than a bank account, well below the international average of Banks of 70-80%, and reveals an uptake problem. Ironically, the PSB was created to solve this uptake problem which has left 55% of Nigeria unbanked.