GTBank gets PSB license for HabariPay, joins MTN, Airtel in race for the unbanked

Godfrey Elimian
As it gets final approval from the CBN to operate its HabariPay Subsidiary
Segun Agbaje, CEO GTCO PSB
Segun Agbaje, CEO GTCO Group

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has granted final approval to Guarantee Trust Holding (GTCO) to operate its payment service bank (PSB) subsidiary, HabariPay Limited.

According to a statement signed by the Group Company Secretary/General Counsel obtained from the Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX), all regulatory permits for the subsidiary’s start-up have been secured.

Speaking on the Bank’s motivation, Mr Segun Agbaje, Group Chief Executive Officer of GTCO Plc, “payments are central to the development of financial services globally and represent a key growth area for the Group”

According to him:

“GTCO Plc has been at the forefront of delivering cutting-edge innovative solutions with its banking franchise and would leverage this capacity to transform the evolving payment space. with HabariPay, we have successfully created more value for our stakeholders. Our vision is an Africa where every payment is digital, and we hope to achieve this by increasingly leveraging technology to improve access to financial devices for individuals and empower businesses across Africa with the right digital tools to thrive”

– Segun Agbaje, CEO, GTCO Plc.

Related also: MTN’s mobile money service, MoMo begins operation In Nigeria

PSB’s continuous rise in Nigeria

Nigeria is currently witnessing an influx of PSBs. Two months ago, we reported that MTN’s MoMo was granted a PSB license to carry out operations in the country. This is in line with the Groups anticipation of the approval since 2018 when the Nigerian Government first announced of its willingness to issue them the license.

Based on information on the apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) website, one of the minimum requirements for obtaining a super agent license in Nigeria is that the recipient must have a minimum shareholders’ fund, unimpaired by losses of N50 million. The CBN says it is giving out the licenses as part of its licenses as part of efforts to boost financial inclusion.

Also in May, we reported that the MoMo PSB had commenced operation when it carried out its market activation at Oke-Arin in Marina, Lagos,

GTCO gets approval for PSB, after MTN MoMo Bank and Airtel SMARTCASH
MTN Nigeria gets final approval for MoMo Bank

“We look forward to playing our part and are excited about the opportunities to partner with relevant institutions across various sectors to co-create and expand access nationwide”

Usoro Usoro, CEO MoMo PSB

Similarly, Airtel has also been given the license granting full approval to operate its own PSB, SMART CASH, by the CBN, This comes after the CBN had earlier granted Airtel’s subsidiary Airtel Mobile Commerce Nigeria Ltd a full “super-agent” license.

GTCO gets approval for PSB, after MTN MoMo Bank and Airtel SMARTCASH
Airtel receives a license to operate PSB SmartCash

“I am very pleased that Smartcash has been granted approval for a complete PSB licence to operate a service bank business in Nigeria, and we are now working towards the launch of business”

Segun Ogunsanya, CEO of Airtel Africa.

Mobile Money allows customers to transfer or receive money to wallets across all the telecom networks that offer mobile money services. Users can also transfer money between mobile wallets and bank accounts. And due to the recent boom in digital innovation, mobile money seems to be having a strong foothold.

Recent reports by the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) reveal that the number of mobile money customers rose from 3.2 million recorded in 2017 to 5.54 million this year. Also, in a nine-month review (January to September 2018), the volume of mobile money transactions in Nigeria was N1.2 trillion.

This shows a significant acceptance of Mobile Money in Nigeria.

What this means for Nigerians

PSBs are a type of bank that operates on a smaller scale by harnessing technology services via mobile and agency banking to mobilise deposits and facilitate transfers from unbanked customers in rural areas and any location where they live.

That is, it allows institutions to accept deposits from individuals and small businesses, carry out payment and remittance services, issue debit and prepaid cards, operate electronic purses, and other activities prescribed by the CBN.

This would go a long way in helping SME owners and local entrepreneurs grow and widen their alternatives, thereby, not being financially excluded and restricted based on the location and localization of their businesses.

It also provides useful and gainful employment for individuals who would want to become financial payment agents for these institutions who continually want to expand their coverage to every unbanked area in the country.


Both Nigerians, SMEs and these institutions stand to benefit from a wider coverage and extension of payment services to every part of the country.

Unbanked Nigerians in the rural areas become exposed to payment services which would help them facilitate their own businesses and trade, thereby, expanding the economic potential of these rural areas.

Also, commercial banks such as GTCO, become decongested and can take out time to develop other innovative solutions.

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