The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has unveiled a new online platform for the submission of microfinance bank (MFB) licence applications to ease the process.
Known as the CBN Licensing, Approval and Other Requests Portal (CBN LARP), the new online platform will eventually replace the current manual process, allowing prospective MFB licence applicants to submit their applications physically. The platform is expected to be extended to other categories of licences in due course.
This is according to a statement sent out Wednesday by Isa AbdulMumin, the CBN Director of Corporate Communications.
The online application system has numerous benefits, including a simplified process, time savings, enhanced communication, and robust security measures.
“By digitising the application process, the Bank aims to improve accessibility, reduce paperwork, and expedite licence approvals, benefiting both applicants and the economy,” AbdulMumin stated.
Consequently, effective September 25, 2023, MFB licence applicants must submit both hardcopy and online applications (via the CBN LARP) as part of a parallel run. The cover letter submitting the hardcopy application must also note a valid application reference from the online submission to be accepted.
The parallel run will end on December 31, 2023, after which manual submissions of hardcopy MFB licence applications will no longer be required and accepted.
“From September 25, 2023, prospective MFB applicants are urged to log on to www.larp.cbn.gov.ng to submit their respective MFB licence applications. Help and detailed guidance are available within CBN LARP to assist users in navigating the new platform. A user guide can also be downloaded from the platform,” the statement read.
Applicants may contact the dedicated helpdesk via email at [email protected] for further information.
The CBN, however, assured that it will continue to accept manual applications for all other licence types until further notice.
Microfinance banks aim to provide financial services to the poor traditionally not served by conventional financial institutions.
Financial inclusion in Nigeria is currently at 64 percent, the CBN said it had set an ambitious additional target of 95 percent by 2024.
However, the recent economic downturn has suffocated many microfinance banks out of business, leaving just a few to meet the needs of low-income earners.
The top five Microfinance Banks include: LAPO MFB, AB, Baobab, Lovonus, Addosser, which have distinguished themselves through technology adoption in their products and services, according to a recent BusinessDay report.