A man passes an MTN board in Lagos, Nigeria. Picture: AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI
A man passes an MTN board in Lagos, Nigeria. Picture: AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

MTN has signed an agreement with Nedbank associate Ecobank aimed at growing their various services across Africa.

The mobile operator and the Togo-based pan-African bank would consider mobile saving and lending products and digital payment and remittance services, they said in a statement.

They would also allow customers to transfer money between their mobile money wallets and bank accounts. This would extend an existing partnership between the groups and “allow them to innovate and enhance access to affordable financial services via MTN Mobile Money and Ecobank banking services”, they said.

Ecobank CEO Ade Ayeyemi said the agreement would promote financial inclusion in Africa and would allow customers to “have instant bank accounts, savings accounts, loans and make instant remittances on their mobile phones”.

MTN CEO Rob Shuter said partnerships between banks and mobile money operators “are fundamental in the mobile money ecosystem”. In SA, MTN has a microinsurance partnership with MMI.

Shuter said in March MTN wanted to build an “advanced financial services” unit that included loan, investment and insurance products. The group was looking at “all markets”.

Mergence Investment Managers portfolio manager Peter Takaendesa said he expected more tie-ups between mobile operators and banks in Africa.

“Over the next few years, I think we’re going to see more financial services companies and other businesses trying to use mobile [operators] as a distribution platform, because that’s one of the easiest ways to reach the African consumer,” Takaendesa said.

While regulators in certain countries required mobile operators to partner with banks on financial services these agreements were mutually beneficial as mobile operators had inadequate credit records for their prepaid clients.