Airtel Africa’s fintech unit in Nigeria, Smartcash Payment Service Bank (PSB) now has 20 million accounts across the country which boosts its position as a major player in the digital banking landscape in Nigeria.
The company made the disclosure at a Media Roundtable Artel hosted in Lagos. Judith Osiobe, head of B2B Sales, Smartcash PSB who provided the data does not however say how many of those accounts are active wallets.
The telco’s investment in 5G network services has also increased significantly. The number of 5G sites owned by the company is over 250 in 2023 and there are plans to keep adding more sites to include cities outside Lagos and Abuja.
Osiobe said Smartcash, which began operations in August 2022, recently launched an international remittance service with the aim of ensuring financial inclusion on a global scale.
“We recently launched the Smartcash Remittance Service that offers competitive tariffs compared to traditional means. Customers can simply activate this service by opening an account with an existing mobile number by simply dialing *939# or downloading the app to activate an account. Smartcash is here to stay, and we are changing lives and making financial services accessible for everyone. We are also proud to say that we have the best and cheapest rate in the market when it comes to sorting utility bills on our payment service app,” Osiobe said.
Ismail Adeshina, Airtel Nigeria Director of Marketing, said the 5G infrastructure investment would include towers, base stations, and spectrum licences, providing widespread 5G coverage across Nigeria.
“We are actively collaborating with technology partners, device manufacturers, and local businesses to explore and develop innovative 5G use cases. Such as IoT applications and smart city solutions,” Adeshina said.
He noted that Airtel will consider refarming old licences as it progresses in the 5G market. The telco’s investment in 5G will however not affect its 4G services. Adeshina said every Airtel site is a 2G, 3G, and 4G site.
“5G deployment will not affect any of these, especially because the deployment is prioritised based on used cases and the need,” Adeshina said.
The company is also looking to provide data and cloud management solutions to both SMEs and government agencies.
“Airtel realised that the buying behavior of the private sector is different from the public sector, so this year, we created a special public sector event to showcase how their various parastatals can be upgraded to become more reliable. It was important to showcase to the public sector how their bulky data could be well managed. We had about 46 government agencies represented, to show that we were listening to the needs of the government on the digitisation agenda,” said Ogo Ofomata, director, Airtel Business.