This paper aims to compare the prepaid card laws/regulations in Nigeria, the UK, the USA and India with the aim of determining the best approach to regulating prepaid cards, that is the approach that promotes financial inclusion and also makes the product less attractive for money laundering.
This paper relies mainly on primary and secondary data drawn from the public domain. It also relies on documentary research.
This paper makes the following findings and recommendations: Nigeria has the best approach to regulating providers of prepaid cards. Nigeria’s approach could foster financial inclusion and at the same time mitigate the money laundering risks associated with prepaid cards. Nigeria’s approach is not too strict like the Indian approach and it is not too relaxed like the UK and the USA approach. Operators, including mobile/telecommunications operators, wishing to operate money transfer schemes in Nigeria are allowed to do so with approval from the Central Bank of Nigeria and in strict conjunction with licensed deposit-taking banks or financial institutions. The UK, the USA and India are recommended to adopt Nigeria’s approach. The UK and the USA have the best approach to regulating agents of prepaid cards. Both countries require prepaid card providers to maintain a current list of agents and make it available to the relevant authorities upon request. The approach allows regulatory agencies to effectively monitor and supervise prepaid card agents. India and Nigeria are advised to clarify their approach regarding the regulation of prepaid card agents. The prepaid card laws/regulations of those countries should be modified to specify if the agent of a prepaid card provider is required to be licensed or registered by a competent authority or if the prepaid card provider (the principal) is required to maintain an updated list of agents which must be made accessible to a designated competent authority, when requested. The new changes will afford regulatory authorities the opportunity to effectively monitor and supervise prepaid card agents. India’s approach to thresholds would preclude most individuals in the intended target market from accessing basic financial products, as most people typically do not have residential addresses that could be confirmed by reference to formal documentation. India should adopt the “risk-based approach” and not the “wholesale de-risking approach”.
Given their low-risk characteristics, closed-loop cards, specifically cards which do not allow reloads or withdrawals, remain outside the scope of this paper.
Although there have been researchers who adopted the comparative approach like Jean J Luyat and Will Cain, the comparative approach adopted by those researchers was not detailed enough and also was not aimed at seeking to answer the research question in Section 1 of this paper. Both writers focused on only the aspect of financial inclusion making the whole research a one-sided approach. Jean J Luyat focused on “how regulation had an impact on the development of prepaid cards in Japan and Europe”. He was able to discover that prepaid cards were growing rapidly in Japan but not gaining acceptance as a payment method in the European Union (EU) and France. He aligned such growth in Japan to different factors including regulation. He stated that Japan had a simple and flexible regulatory framework compared to the EU and France which have a complex regulatory system with strict prudential requirements. Nothing was said about the money laundering aspect of such regulation and neither was anything said about thresholds and other optional recommendations canvased by the Financial Action Task Force. The Electronic Money Directive referred to by Jean J Luyat has already been repealed and a second Electronic Money Directive is in place. A comparative approach is adopted in this research seeking to compare the approach in Nigeria with that of the UK, the USA and India. Each of these countries adopted different approaches. The results are to help answer the research question in Section 1 of this paper. The countries were selected on the basis of how strict their regulatory regime is. India’s regulatory regime is the strictest while the UK and the USA are the most lenient. Nigeria is caught in between strict/lenient.
Esoimeme, E. (2018), "A comparative analysis of the prepaid card laws/regulations in Nigeria, the UK, the USA and India", Journal of Money Laundering Control, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 481-493. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMLC-03-2017-0010Download as .RIS
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