Nigeria’s CBN issues approval-in-principle to Bloc MFB

Bloc Microfinance Bank has been issued an approval-in-principle by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Pending final approval from the apex bank, the bank will receive a licence to operate a microfinance bank in Nigeria.

“This sets the right tone for Bloc as a financial technology company and puts us on our path to global success,” CEO Edmund Olotu said in a statement.  

An approval-in-principle is issued by the CBN to promoters of a microfinance bank before incorporation. While the AIP is not a licence, it signifies a willingness by the bank to engage the regulator and is frequently a precursor to a licence. 

Should it receive this licence, the startup will be able to issue virtual account numbers with advanced features for its customers. According to a statement by the company, all virtual accounts owned by Bloc MFB will also be insured by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC). 

Prior to August 2023, Bloc provided APIs that businesses could use to provide banking and financial services to their customers. In August, it launched a business banking solution that allows businesses to create virtual naira and dollar cards, bank accounts, and make and accept payments. It also offers an embedded finance service that enables third parties to issue virtual accounts and virtual cards. 

“With this, we solved the access problem for all types of businesses by fundamentally changing how banking and payments happen for all companies while enabling them to deploy bespoke financial services that guarantee business growth and sustainability,” Olotu said at the launch. 

In April 2023, it completed the acquisition of Orchestrate, a two-year-old wallets-as-a-service provider, in a cash and equity deal. 

Following the acquisition, Bloc iterated that it would be doubling down on its banking-as-a-service API products, while Orchestrate would be focusing on improving its payments orchestration solution. At the time, the company revealed it had processed more than $30 million through its bill payments API alone.