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Nigeria is looking to increase financial inclusion by enabling more payments providers to operate in the country. Bloomberg reported recently that the country’s central bank plans to grant more licenses to payments providers.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and currently has a financial inclusion rate of about 60%, the article said. The central bank is hoping to boost that to 80% by the end of 2020. The bank has granted what it calls payment bank licenses to three companies so far in 2019.

“Our objective is to support the development of a robust payment infrastructure that would bring more Nigerians who do not have access to financial services into the financial system. The provision of licenses to several players will help support innovation and competition as all parties work to increase their customer base,” Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele said in a speech, according to a This Day report.

Nigeria’s commitment to developing its payments infrastructure is apparently drawing investment. TechCrunch reported this week that payments companies focused on Nigeria received $360 million in funding during November 2019 alone. 

Countries across Africa are taking steps to bring more people into the formal financial system through enablement of electronic payments. QR code efforts have made inroads in Kenya in recent years. And last year, the Central Bank of Egypt announced it would support standardized QR codes as a way to enable acceptance of the codes regardless of mobile payments system. 

Egypt has also expressed support for payment facilitators with new regulations that clarify supervisory responsibilities.