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As part of its mobile financial services plans, Airtel Africa has launched banking services in Nigeria. The operator said that its subsidiary, SmartCash Payment Service Bank (SmartCash PSB), has started operations and services will initially be available at selected retail touchpoints, and operations will expand gradually across the country over the next few months.

Segun Ogunsanya, Airtel Africa CEO, said in a statement, "This is the beginning of our journey to revolutionize the financial services landscape in the country. To help further digitize the economy, and most importantly to help bank the unbanked by reaching the millions of Nigerians who do not currently have access to financial services by delivering current and savings accounts, payment and remittance services, debit and prepayment cards and more sophisticated services.”

After receiving banking license approvals in Nigeria, Ogunsanya said the group planned to take advantage of the opportunity to accelerate financial inclusion. PSB license allows Smartcash to accept deposits from individuals and small businesses, carry out payment and remittance services within Nigeria, and issue debit and prepaid cards. This license will help also to open up its mobile money business to its 44.4 million customers in Nigeria, with the potential of getting over 200 million people on board.

Mobile money continues to be one of Airtel's fastest-growing services, and an increasingly important part of its business, delivering $64.4 billion of annual transaction value and accounting for 11.7% of total revenue in the past financial year.

It is noteworthy that rival MTN also got the approval to launch its own PSB in Nigeria.

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