- Nigerians who hold Airtel's SmartCash mobile money wallet can now receive foreign currencies directly into their wallets.
- SmartCash is making this possible through a partnership with Thunes, a Singaporean cross-border payment network provider.
- The inbound remittance service is coming after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced the approval of a naira payout option for diaspora remittance.
The CBN announced the approval of a naira payout option for diaspora remittance in July 2023. Back in 2020, international money transfer operators (IMTOs) and commercial banks were directed to pay beneficiaries of diaspora remittances in foreign currencies to deepen the foreign exchange market in Nigeria.
Now recipients have the option of receiving payments in naira or eNaira.
Airtel's payment service bank (PSB), SmartCash is taking advantage of this option to offer foreign remittances in naira to its wallet holders.
It is offering this service in partnership with Thunes, a Singaporean company that offers a cross-border payment infrastructure.
According to the company's website, it allows payouts to 182 countries in 80 currencies.
MTN's MoMo is also doubling down on cross-border transactions
In August 2023, MTN's PSB, MoMo, also partnered with Saana Capital — an international cross-border company — to to enable bill payment services and seamless inbound and outbound transfers throughout Africa.
Before the partnership, cross-border transactions within Africa were only available to customers who wanted to send money from Uganda and Rwanda.
Unlike SmartCash's solution, which only allows remittance, MoMo's solution allows Nigerians to send and receive money across several African countries without the need for a foreign currency or domiciliary account.
The new features by SmartCash and MoMo could be a play by PSBs to deepen their fintech play across Africa.
MoMo also launched remittance payments in South Africa that allow MTN users to send cash abroad and businesses to accept payments at a 4% service fee. 9Mobile's 9 Payment Service Bank is also doubling down on its fintech as a service offering, enabling fintechs like Chipper to accept and hold money.
With $20.1 billion in remittance inflows in 2022, Nigeria is an attractive market for remittance. This move by Nigerian PSBs could deepen mobile money adoption in Nigeria.