By Babajide Komolafe
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that mobile payment system will take off in the country by middle of the year.Acting Director, Banking Operations, Mr. Abayomi Atoloye, said this at a workshop on mobile payment regulatory framework dissemination organised by Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFInA) in Lagos yesterday.
Atoloye, who represented the Deputy Governor, Banking Operations, Mr Tunde Lemo, delivered the key note address Overview of the Central Bank of Nigeriaâ€™s Mobile Payments Regulatory Framework and the Future of Mobile Payments in Nigeria.
He said that the apex bank has received many applications for license to operate mobile payment schemes in the country.
He said in preparation to the commencement of mobile payment in the country, CBN has set up a mobile payment policy and oversight unit with the mandate to ensure compliance and recommend approval for license.
Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA) is an independent, professional and non-profit organisation set up for the purpose of promoting pro-poor Financial Sector Development and Financial Inclusion in Nigeria.
The workshop was organised as part of its mandate to facilitate the development of Innovative Inclusive Financial Services for the unbanked and under-banked in the country as well as to address major issues raised in the regulatory framework issued by the CBN in June 2009.
EFInA Chief Executive Officer, Modupe Ladipo, said when the CBN issued its Mobile Payments Services Regulatory Framework in June 2009, it became necessary for EFInA, given its mandate, to provide a platform for stakeholders to share their views and agree on the implementation of the framework.
According to her, â€œThis workshop serves as an opportunity for knowledge exchange between the regulators and key stakeholders (banks, payment service providers and mobile operators) on perspectives on the regulation of mobile payments and branchless banking in different jurisdictions.
â€œThe workshop will also create awareness of the framework and provide stakeholders the opportunity to present their views.â€
Pointing out that EFInAâ€™s mandate is to facilitate the development of Innovative Inclusive Financial Services for the unbanked and under-banked, Ladipo noted that EFInA believes the implementation of Mobile Payments in Nigeria is critical to the achievement of this goal.
She said, â€œEFInAâ€™s aim is to become an innovation centre targeting catalytic change across Nigeriaâ€™s financial sector, to make markets work for those currently excluded from the formal financial servicesâ€.
At the workshop, Gerald Nyaoma Arita, Director Banking Services, Central Bank of Kenya, gave an overview of the evolution, regulation and supervision of Safaricomâ€™s mobile money product Mpesa in Kenya.
Arita stated â€œThe Kenyan formal banking channels have low reach amongst their population due to the high cost of establishing an extensive branch network, particularly outside of the urban center and mobile money has to the potential to bridge this sizable gapâ€.
Other regulators- V.J. Dela Selormey, Director Banking Supervision Department, Bank of Ghana (retired) and Chowdhury Haque, Executive Director Payment Systems, Bangladesh Bank, gave their perspectives on the regulation and supervision of mobile payments and branchless banking in their jurisdictions.
The duo of Evelyn Stark of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Ahmed Dermish of Bankable Frontier Associates delivered presentation on the â€œFinancial Inclusion and Mobile Payments: Global Policy Challenges and Innovationsâ€.
Mr. Dermish said â€œThe road to achieving inclusive mobile banking should be clearly demarked by a proportionate regulatory framework in consultation with those stakeholders who incur the risk and cost of the journeyâ€.
Other discussions included interactive sessions on the Central Bank of Nigeriaâ€™s Mobile Payments Regulatory Framework and Key Success Factors for Mobile Payments and Branchless Banking: Attaining the balance between Regulation, Innovation and Financial Inclusion.
George Held, Director Zap Holding BV stated, â€œSustainable mobile payments service introduction and always works in partnership with leading Financial Institutions under the guidance and supervision from respective Central Banksâ€.
With focus on regulation and supervision of mobile payments, the workshop, which had Nigerian thought leaders and international speakers in the finance and mobile payments industry in attendance, saw many participants including three regulators from the Central Bank of Kenya, Bank of Bangladesh and Bank of Ghana sharing their perspectives on the regulation, supervision and implementation of branchless banking and mobile payment regulatory framework.