Nairametrics| MTN Nigeria, is apparently looking beyond its current core areas of voice and data, to move into mobile payments. While it has couched its partnership with Lumos Global on solar devices, as giving back to the community, the telecoms company stands to gain far more.
Mobile money payments have struggled in Nigeria, despite working in other African countries like Kenya [and South Africa?] The subscribers who pay for the solar devices with MTN airtime, would gladly pay for other services, it is assumed. This opens a bigger market among the unbanked in rural areas, where there is limited access to banking services.
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) put the number of telecoms subscribers in the country at 154 million as at December 2016. Results from the Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFINA) survey in 2014 show that only 33.9 million adults are banked. So mobile money clearly has a role to play.
As the Nigerian telecoms market hits maturity, customers have gradually moved their spending from voice to data, using apps such as WhatsApp, Viber, etc, which allows them to make calls using data. This has reduced revenue for the firm, in addition to a slowdown in the Nigerian economy, which has consequently reduced consumer spending power.
MTN Nigeria, was in October 2015 slammed with a record N1.04 trillion fine by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for failing to disconnect 5.1 milllion unregistered subscribers. After eight months of negotiation, the fine was reduced to N360 billion, to be paid in tranches till 2019. As part of the settlement, MTN is required to list its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).