General climate and trends

General innovation climate

What is the general state of fintech innovation in your jurisdiction, including any notable trends, innovations, innovators and future prospects?

The Nigerian market offers a wide range of fintech products including innovative payment gateways, digital currencies, lending, insurance and wealth management. This is principally accessed through the fintech company’s online and/or mobile banking platforms.

Much of the market activity is centered on payments systems and applications, which circumvent the requirements of holding cash or transacting via a bank account.

Important players in the Nigerian fintech market include:

  • the Remita e-payment platform (through which payments are made to a large portion of government establishments);
  • Paystack (which allows users to pay directly from their bank account);
  • ALAT (an online mobile banking platform that enables all banking activities to be carried out online);
  • e-Transact; 
  • Flutterwave;
  • PiggyBank (an online savings platform);
  • Invoice NG (an online invoicing software);
  • Kliqr (an online platform for expense management); and
  • online retail outlets such as:
    • Yudala;
    • Konga; and
    • Jumia.

Significant growth in the Nigerian fintech industry has seen the establishment of the Fintech Association of Nigeria, a self-regulatory, not-for-profit and non-political organisation incorporated to regulate companies in the fintech business. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) also initiated the Payment System Vision 2020 (PSV 2020) to fast track the development of fintech in the country.

The CBN is also actively looking into avenues of improving the current fintech landscape and recently published a draft Circular on the Exposure Draft of New CBN Licensing Regime (Licence Tiering) for Payment System Providers, which proposes a new licensing regime for all fintech companies. The circular provides for the issuance of:

  • a payment service provider (PSP) super licence with a minimum capital requirement of N5 billion;
  • a PSP standard licence with a minimum capital base of N3 billion; and
  • a PSP basic licence with a minimum capital base of N100 million.

The proposed licensing regime has received mixed reactions from fintech stakeholders, principally because of the onerous capital requirements. In light of this feedback, the CBN is expected to issue new guidelines, which take into consideration these concerns. Otherwise, the proposed framework on licensing, if implemented, will position the CBN to adequately address the emerging issues of fintech with respect to:

  • cyber risk management frameworks;
  • capital adequacy;
  • better-focused regulation; and
  • oversight operations.

Key technologies Have there been any particular developments – regulatory or commercial – in any of the following fintech sectors?

(a) Distributed ledger technology and digital currencies (eg, blockchain, smart contracts and Bitcoin)?

Virtual currency activities are largely unregulated in Nigeria; however, in its 12 January 2017 Circular to Bank and Other Financial Institutions on Virtual Currency Operations in Nigeria, the CBN gave specific instructions to all financial institutions on the use of virtual currency, advising that virtual currency is not recognised as legal tender in Nigeria and that its use will be at the risk of the user, which was reiterated to the public via a CBN press statement on 28 February 2018. This may be as a result of the difficulties in regulating and monitoring operations relating to virtual currencies.

Notwithstanding this, the CBN has set up a committee charged with the preparation of a road map for policies and guidelines that will guide blockchain technology regulation and domestic cryptocurrency in Nigeria. The Fintech Association of Nigeria has also attempted to provide a framework for the development of fintech in Nigeria.

(b) Alternative lending platforms?

There is a proliferation of alternative lending platforms in Nigeria utilising the developing public awareness of fintech. These alternative platforms (eg, Kiakia.co, Quickcheck, Paylater and Renmoney) differ from the traditional money lending institutions to the extent that they provide services that can be accessed anywhere without visiting a bank. They offer unsecured loans to small and medium-sized businesses at competitive interest rates with attractive payback periods.  The friendly interest rates and comfortable loan sizes, which are tailored to the needs of the middle class, have gained alternative lenders significant market shares from microfinance banks and other retail-banking divisions of traditional banks.

However, a fintech company engaging in lending activities must register as a financial institution and obtain a licence from the CBN in accordance with the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act. In addition, the company may be subject to the applicable Money Lenders Law of the state in which it operates. These laws may place restrictions on the interests that the company can charge. For example, the company must comply with:

  • the regulatory capital requirements (its capital/risk weighted assets ratio must be at least 12.5%);
  • limits on the value of loans that can be granted to any person (20% of the finance company’s shareholders funds unimpaired by losses); and
  • limits on the amounts that can be borrowed.

(c) Digital payments, remittances and foreign exchange?

The digital payment sector is arguably the most popular and most technologically advanced in the Nigerian fintech industry. This is primarily governed by the same general framework as traditional financial institutions providing offline services (eg, money or payment transfers, clearing, switching and settlement), in addition to regulations relating specifically to the payment subsectors. The CBN has issued numerous regulations and guidelines, including the PSV 2020 guideline, which promotes the growth of mobile electronic payment solutions. Further, innovations in these subsectors include the adoption of unstructured supplementary service data for payments by banks and non-bank operators. Equally, banking and non-banking institutions have established electronic mobile applications to help improve banking transactions and experiences outside the traditional banking hall.

According to the electronic payment fact sheets of the Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System, the transaction value processed between January and December 2018 increased by N1.8 trillion – demonstrating the growth in the subsector. As previously stated, major players in this field include:

  • SystemSpec;
  • Flutterwave Technologies Solutions Limited;
  • Wema Bank Plc; and
  • e-Transact International Plc.

As regards foreign exchange, the government has mandated that a certificate of capital importation (CCI) – which is a certificate issued by Nigerian banks, pursuant to the CBN Foreign Exchange Manual, as evidence of direct foreign capital investment in Nigeria – must be de-materialised into an e-CCI form to aid transactions in foreign exchange. The e-CCI is relevant to foreign investors as its guarantees an unconditional repatriation of capital and profits, as well as any interest or dividend on their investments.

(d) Alternative financing (including crowdfunding)?

Nigeria has not fully embraced the concept of crowdfunding, especially when compared to other jurisdictions. On 15 August 2016 the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released a statement stating that all crowdfunding activities in Nigeria should be suspended until specific and comprehensive regulations on the subject are established. This is because Nigerian law does not contemplate crowdfunding activities and, in fact, imposes restrictions on inviting the public to subscribe to shares or securities of a company or person, unless it is a public company and the requisite SEC approvals have been obtained. Although there are no regulations or laws in place for reward and equity-based crowdfunding in Nigeria, regulatory amendments to permit equity crowdfunding in Nigeria are underway.

(e) Investment, asset and wealth management?

The use of fintech to aid asset and investment management is slowly being developed in the areas of securities trading and investment management. Securities trading as undertaken on the Nigerian Stock Exchange automated trading system (ATS) is one example of the use of fintech in this sector. The ATS can be directly or remotely accessed and all dealing members must possess sufficient knowledge to operate its risk management tools. Additionally, various Nigerian companies offer investment tools online and through mobile platforms, such as i-Invest, Meritrade and FBNQuest, in order to proffer investment advice to customers.

The main legislation that governs the wholesale securities market is the Investment and Securities Act, supplemented by the rules and regulations made by the SEC and guidelines jointly made by the SEC and the CBN.

Further, other regulators such as the Nigerian Insurance Commission (NAICOM) also provide a framework for the particular sector to which they relate. For example, a company entering into the digital insurance (and other insurance-related fintech services) market must ensure that it is registered with NAICOM before commencing operations. However, the SEC provides the overarching framework for operators of all types on investment, asset management and securities trading businesses in the country.

(f) Robo-advice and artificial intelligence?

The use of AI and robo-advice in the Nigerian fintech environment is still in its development stages.  The banking sector has been easing its way into the use of AI through chat boxes, which are available on different online and mobile platforms.

(g) Any other technologies?

Mobile applications such as I-Invest are revolutionising the ways in which investments are made in Nigeria. They have made it relatively easy for Nigerian users to invest and monitor their medium to long-term fixed term investments, such as treasury bills and sovereign bonds.

Regulatory issues

Regulatory approach

How would you describe the regulatory policy for fintech products and services in your jurisdiction?

Nigerian regulators have adopted a pro-innovative stance. With the establishment of the Fintech Association of Nigeria, the various circulars and guidelines issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and other regulators, the fintech market in Nigeria continues to grow at a rapid pace. 

Have any fintech-specific laws or regulations been enacted in your jurisdiction? Are any envisaged?

There are no fintech-specific laws in Nigeria. However, several regulations and enactments of regulatory laws that could affect the fintech market are envisaged. The guidelines and regulations that have already been issued by the CBN include:

  • the CBN Guidelines on Mobile Money Services in Nigeria 2015;
  • the CBN Guidelines on Operations of Electronic Payment Channels in Nigeria 2016;
  • the CBN Regulation for Bill Payments in Nigeria 2018;
  • the CBN Regulatory Framework for the Use of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) for Financial Services in Nigeria 2018;
  • the CBN Guidelines on International Mobile Money Remittance Service in Nigeria 2015;
  • the CBN Regulation for Direct Debit Scheme in Nigeria 2018;
  • the CBN Guidelines on International Money Transfer Services in Nigeria 2014; and
  • the CBN draft Risk-Based Cybersecurity Framework and Guidelines for Deposit Money Banks and Payment Service Providers 2018, which is to provide a framework for managing cybersecurity.

These regulations seek to promote and ensure an effective and sound financial system for the settlement of transactions, including the development of electronic payment systems in Nigeria. These regulations also leverage technology to promote financial inclusion and enhance access to financial services among low-income earners and those that are financially excluded from society.

The apex financial regulatory bodies – the CBN and the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) – have taken steps to include fintech in the existing laws. New laws which are specifically tailored to the development of fintech are also in the process of being enacted. These new laws include:

  • the Companies and Allied Matters Bill;
  • the Proposed Regulatory Framework for Crowdfunding Activities by the SEC;
  • the Proposed Electronic Transactions Bill; and
  • the Payment Systems Management Bill.

These bills seek to promote e-commerce in Nigeria and consolidate the regulation of electronic payments.

Regulatory authorities

Which government authorities regulate the provision of fintech products and services?

Depending on the services provided by the fintech company, the following authorities regulate the activities:

  • the CBN;
  • the SEC;
  • the Nigerian Stock Exchange;
  • the Corporate Affairs Commission; and
  • the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

Financial regulatory framework

Which laws and regulations governing the provision of financial services apply to fintech businesses?

Nigerian financial services legislation applies to most fintech products and service providers, although there are no laws specifically tailored to the fintech sector. This legislation includes:

  • the Bank and Other Financial Institution Act 2004;
  • circulars and guidelines issued by the CBN;
  • the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous) Provision Act;
  • the Investment and Securities Act;
  • the SEC Rules 2013; and
  • the Cybercrimes Act 2015.

These laws and regulations provide regulatory and supervisory requirements and spell out the permissible and prohibited activities of financial institutions in order to promote efficient and sustainable financial services in Nigeria.

Under what conditions are fintech businesses subject to licensing requirements? Are there any exemptions?

There are no specific fintech licensing requirements in Nigeria. However, under the Nigerian framework, fintech companies may be licensed only if they provide fintech-based products or services similar to a regulated financial product or service. For example, in the financial sector, a banking licence must be obtained from the CBN before a fintech company can engage in lending operations.

Under the Guidelines for the Operation of International Money Transfer Services in Nigeria 2014, the CBN sets out a detailed legal framework requiring, among other things, international money transfer operators to obtain licences from the CBN before engaging in money transfer services or otherwise be sanctioned. Under the CBN Guidelines on International Mobile Money Remittance Service in Nigeria 2015, foreign international money transfer operators that wish to operate in Nigeria must apply to the CBN for a licence and show evidence of possession of a licence in their home country. In addition to the CBN guidelines, payment services involving mobile telephone infrastructure are regulated under the NCC Licence Framework for Value-Added Service. Under this framework, mobile payment service providers must obtain a five-year renewable licence from the NCC.

Additionally, the general provisions of the law in relation to the registration and incorporation of businesses and companies must be complied with if the business intends to take full advantage of the law in Nigeria. Where a foreign entity intends to supply fintech products in Nigeria, it must comply with certain requirements in addition to incorporating a company, such as obtaining a business permit and expatriate quota from the Ministry of Interior. Technology transfer agreements between foreign companies and fintech entities in Nigeria must be registered with the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion.

The CBN has also proposed a bill that would provide a licensing framework to guide the operation of payment providers and fintech companies.

Are any fintech products or services prohibited in your jurisdiction?

Certain fintech products and services are prohibited in Nigeria. As stated previously, the CBN – via its 12 January 2017 Circular to Bank and Other Financial Institutions on Virtual Currency Operations in Nigeria – issued a warning to all financial institutions to desist from transacting in virtual currency as this is not recognised as legal tender in Nigeria.  Under the circular, the CBN prohibits the holding of, and entry into transactions in cryptocurrencies by licensed banks and other financial institutions. However, while banking operations in virtual currencies are discouraged, transactions in virtual currencies are not prohibited in Nigeria.

As regards crowdfunding, in August 2016 the SEC issued a statement banning crowdfunding activities until specific and comprehensive regulations on the subject have been established.

Data protection and cybersecurity

What rules and regulations govern the processing and transfer (domestic and cross-border) of data relating to fintech products and services?

The Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019 – which is the only specific data protection regulation in Nigeria – issued by the Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency provides that all personal data notwithstanding the means through which the data was obtained can be processed only where the data subject gives their consent directly or indirectly or where  it relates to a task carried out in the interest of the public.

The CBN Consumer Protection Framework 2016 made pursuant to the CBN Act 2007 imposes a burden on financial institutions to maintain the confidentiality and privacy of all financial services customers. Companies must ensure that the appropriate data protection measures and employee training programmes are in place to prevent unauthorised access to or alteration, disclosure, accidental loss or destruction of customer data. Service providers must also obtain written consent from consumers before their data is shared with third parties or used for promotional offers.

Data processing is also regulated by the NCC Consumer Code of Practice Regulations 2007, which provide that all licensees must take reasonable steps to protect consumer information against “improper or accidental disclosure” and ensure that such information is securely stored. The CBN Regulatory Framework for the Use of USSD for Financial Services in Nigeria, which came into force in June 2018, also imposes security and customer data protection requirements, including data encryption.

Section 9 of the Credit Reporting Act 2017 requires credit bureaus to ensure the rights of data subjects to privacy, confidentiality and protection of their credit information and prescribes the preconditions under which data subjects’ credit may be disclosed.

What cybersecurity regulations or standards apply to fintech businesses?

Currently, there are no cybersecurity laws that specifically apply to or provide a framework for dealing with fintech businesses. However, the existing framework includes the following standards, which may apply from a cybersecurity perspective:

  • The Cybercrime (Prohibition Prevention) Act 2015 requires a financial institution to:
    • verify the identity of customers carrying out electronic financial transactions;
    • observe adequate know-your-customer procedures;
    • ensure that it obtains proper authorisation before debiting accounts; and
    • keep all traffic data and subscriber information as may be required by the NCC.

The act also prohibits the interception of electronic messages, e-mails and electronic money transfers, computer-related forgery and fraud, unauthorised modifications of computer systems, network data and system interference, and the manipulation of automated teller machines and point of sale terminals.

  • The NCC Consumer Code of Practice Regulations 2007 provide that all licensees must take reasonable steps to protect consumer information against “improper or accidental disclosure” and ensure that such information is securely stored.
  • The Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act 2013 provides that where any person solicits or renders support to any association for the commission of a terrorist activity, including through the Internet or electronic means, such a person will be liable to a minimum of 20 years’ imprisonment.
  • The Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud-Related Offences Act 2006 provides that a person who conducts a financial transaction which involves the movement of money by wire or the use of a financial institution engaged in activities which affect commerce with the intent to promote a specified unlawful activity has committed a crime and will be liable to a fine and imprisonment.

Financial crime

What anti-fraud, anti-money laundering or other financial crime regulations govern the provision of fintech products and services?

There is no specific financial crime law governing the provision of fintech products and services. However, some financial crime laws or regulations may apply to specific fintech services depending on the sector to which they relate.

The CBN Anti-money Laundering and Combatting the Financing of Terrorism in Banks and Other Financial Institutions in Nigeria Regulations 2013 require all financial institutions to adopt a policy on anti-money laundering and to combat the financing of terrorism. Fintech companies fall under this category. They must also have policies and procedures to address any risks for customers in relation to anti-money laundering and the financing of terrorism. In addition, the following financial crime laws apply to fintech companies:

  • the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended);
  • the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act Cap E1, LFN 2004;
  • the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 10/2011;
  • the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act Cap C31 LFN 2004; and
  • the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2019.

What precautions should fintech businesses take to ensure compliance with these provisions?

Fintech businesses are encouraged to discuss their proposals with legal counsel in Nigeria who are experts in the related field for a full understanding of the applicable requirements and the appropriate measures to be taken in order to ensure compliance. Nigerian authorities follow a strict approach when it comes to the enforcement of anti-money laundering and financial crimes provisions.

Consumer protection

What consumer protection laws and regulations apply to the provision of fintech products and services?

Several consumer protection laws and regulations are applicable to the fintech industry in Nigeria, including:

  • the Treaty on the UN Guidelines on Consumer Protection, which has been domesticated by the Nigerian government;
  • the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection (FCCP) Act 2019, which established the FCCP Commission and charged it with the responsibility of protecting consumers by taking both preventive and remedial measures with regard to consumer products and services;
  • the CBN Consumer Protection Framework 2016, which applies to various types of financial institution under the regulatory purview of the CBN, including fintech entities;
  • the NCC Act 2003, which applies to the provision and use of all communications services and networks, in whole or in part, in Nigeria or on ships or aircrafts registered in Nigeria;
  • the NCC Consumer Code of Practice Regulation 2007, which provides a minimum standard by which all licensees in the telecoms industry must abide in the provision of services; and
  • the Release of Consumer Protection Framework for Banks and Other Financial Institutions issued by the CBN.

These laws and regulations seek to protect consumers from the purchase and use of sub-standard products.

Competition

Does the provision of fintech products or services in your jurisdiction raise any particular competition regulatory concerns?

Fintech can be viewed as pro-competitive in the financial services market. The recently passed Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2019 provides for the establishment of the FCCP Commission whose function includes the identification of anti-competitive products, anti-consumer protection and restrictive agreements and practices which may adversely affect the economy. The aim of the act is to encourage healthy competition among service providers.

One area which will apply to fintech companies is merger control. The FCCP must be notified when a fintech company acquires or merges with another. The SEC must also be notified if the fintech company is a public company.

Cross-border regulation

Are there any particular regulatory issues concerning the cross-border provision of fintech products and services (eg, operating jurisdiction rules and currency controls)?

The general provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act apply with respect to foreign fintech companies doing business in Nigeria. The following requirements, among others, will apply to a foreign company:

  • the requirement to be incorporated in Nigeria (unless the company falls within a limited set of exceptions);
  • the requirement to obtain certain permits from the Ministry of Interior before it can begin operations; and
  • the requirement to obtain an electronic certificate of capital importation issued by an authorised dealer.

In terms of money transfer services, the CBN has released its Guidelines on International Mobile Money Remittance Service in Nigeria. These apply to foreign fintech entities providing such services in Nigeria. Foreign international money transfer operators that wish to operate in Nigeria must apply to the CBN for a licence and show evidence of possession of a licence in their home country.

There may also be tax and exchange control implications where fintech products and services are brought into Nigeria on a cross-border basis. Further, where there are technology transfer agreements between foreign companies and fintech companies in Nigeria, the companies must register with the CBN and the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion.

Financing, investment and government support

Government support

Does the government provide any incentives or support programmes to promote fintech innovation in your jurisdiction (eg, tax incentives, grants and regulatory sandboxes)?

The government is providing infrastructural support to innovation and technology hubs, shared spaces, a more consistent power supply and subsidised internet services to help promote innovation. Fintech entities engaged in innovative activities such as software development and publishing may also qualify for some of the incentives that are generally available to businesses in Nigeria, including the following:

  • Investment tax credits for R&D – the Companies Income Tax Act provides that companies and other organisations that engage in R&D activities for commercialisation will enjoy a 20% investment tax credit on their qualifying expenditure for that purpose. The act also provides that profit reserved by a company for the purposes of R&D is tax deductible provided that such reserves do not exceed 10% of the company’s total assessable profit.
  • Pioneer status – companies that are classified as operating in a pioneer industry or that engage in the production of pioneer products can apply for pioneer status, which – when granted – provides corporate tax relief and holidays for the first three to five years of operation. This may be extended for two further one-year periods, subject to factors such as the relative importance of the industry to national development at the time. The e-commerce service industry is accommodated under this scheme.
  • The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) Act empowers the NIPC to negotiate, in collaboration with appropriate government agencies, special incentives for strategic or major investment.
  • The Treaty on Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) – an IPPA seeks reciprocal promotion and protection of investments by individuals and companies in the territories of participating states. An IPPA provides the baseline minimum protections for foreign investments.

Fintech companies can also access government funding through schemes such as:

  • the Youth Entrepreneurship Support Scheme of the Nigeria Bank of Industry (BOI) and the National Youth Service;
  • the BOI Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund; and
  • the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund for Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Loan Programme for residents in Lagos.

Has the government concluded any international cooperation agreements to promote and facilitate the cross-border expansion of fintech businesses?

The Central Bank of Nigeria, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is developing a regulatory framework for fintech as a new group in the financial services sector. The objective is to empower small companies (generally referred to as start-ups), innovators, technology companies and young Nigerians that have great ideas but lack the financial wherewithal to release their products or integrate with banks.

Financing and investment

What private financing and investment schemes are available and commonly used for fintech start-ups in your jurisdiction?

The funding avenues available to new and growing businesses in Nigeria include equity, debt and mezzanine funding, although these avenues are not exclusive to fintech businesses. Additionally, companies can raise debt from individuals, companies, banks and financial institutions subject to conformity with regulatory requirements from the capital markets, where applicable, unless their articles of association provide otherwise. Most fintech companies raise equity rather than debt as most investments come mainly from venture capitalist and private equity firms. There are also funds set up by individuals and entities that are available to small and medium-sized businesses, in addition to the increase in private equity funds that are focused on African fintech.

Ancillary issues

IP rights

What forms of IP protection are available for fintech innovations?

No IP regulations exist specifically to regulate fintech innovations. However, fintech created by entities falls under the umbrella of intellectual property and as such is covered by the existing laws that regulate the protection of intellectual property in Nigeria.

What rules govern the ownership of IP rights to fintech innovations?

Nigerian innovations and inventions are generally protected by Nigerian IP legislation, namely:

  • the Copyright Act Cap C 28 LFN 2004, which protects literary works;
  • the Patents and Designs Act Cap P2, LFN 2004, which protects industrial designs, inventions and improvements on existing patented inventions which are capable of industrial application, including computer programs; and
  • the Trademarks Act Cap T14 LFN 2004, which protects owners of registered trademarks and industrial designs.

These laws protect rights over:

  • industrial designs and inventions;
  • literary works (including software programs); and
  • registered trademarks.

Business methods developed by fintech entities that are new and inventive also qualify for protection as process patents under the Patents and Designs Act.

A person whose IP rights have been infringed on is entitled to institute legal proceedings in the Nigerian courts and obtain reliefs against the infringing party. Infringement of copyright also constitutes a crime punishable by a term of imprisonment under the Copyright Act. Therefore, fintech innovations are covered under the existing laws relating to intellectual property in Nigeria.

Nigeria is a party to several international treaties on intellectual property, but most are yet to be domesticated as required under the law; therefore, they are inapplicable. Nevertheless, the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works 1886 has been domesticated, meaning that works originating from other contracting states are protected under Nigerian law to the same extent that works by Nigerian citizens are protected.

Immigration

What immigration schemes are available for fintech businesses to recruit skilled staff from abroad? Are there any special regimes specific to the tech or financial sector?

Generally, an entity in Nigeria that wishes to employ or recruit an expatriate must conform to the established regulations for such an employment. This also applies to fintech businesses seeking to recruit employees from outside Nigeria.  There is no special regime specifically for fintech businesses.

An entity that seeks to employ an expatriate must apply to the Federal Ministry of Interior for the issuance of an expatriate quota for the relevant number of expatriate personnel that it intends to employ. Upon the grant of the expatriate quota, the entity can invite the relevant skilled employees from abroad into Nigeria. This invitation entitles these expatriates to apply for the combined expatriate residence permit and alien card (CERPAC).

What immigration schemes are available for foreign investors and entrepreneurs wishing to invest in or establish a fintech business in your jurisdiction?

No special immigration regime applies to the fintech sector. The Companies and Allied Matters Act requires foreign investors wishing to do business in Nigeria to incorporate a Nigerian company for this purpose, unless the foreign party and/or the business falls within the limited exceptions permitted by law. The incorporated Nigerian company must then obtain a business permit from the Ministry of Interior.

The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) Act requires that a company with foreign participation must register with the NIPC. Registration with the NIPC affords the foreign investor many benefits, including guaranteed repatriation of capital and dividends, and the ability to submit disputes with the government to arbitration by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

As previously mentioned, such a company can hire expatriates to work in Nigeria only by obtaining expatriate quotas and the expatriates must enter Nigeria on a residency visa, which is exchanged for a CERPAC on entry into Nigeria. Nationals of the Economic Community of West African States have a right of entry into Nigeria for a period of 90 days and must register with the Nigerian Immigration Service and be issued a residence card in order to be eligible to work in Nigeria.