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Nigerian payments service provider CoralPay is in discussions with telecoms companies to extend access to health insurance by mobile phone.

Talks are in progress with MTN, 9Telecom and Globalcom, one of which has agreed the plan in principle, Nkechika says. The scheme to allow mobile payment for health insurance supplied by AXA Mansard is already operating in partnership with Airtel.

CoralPay’s CEO Chioma Nkechika, said the company aims to allow rural Nigerians to access services in local health centres by making insurance payments by phone, using a digital wallet and with no need for a bank account. They can also pay in cash at a banking agent without even a digital wallet by using their phone number to identify the payment, Nkechika says.

CoralPay, founded in 2004, provides traditional processing for interbank transfers and also processes payments for Visa and Mastercard.

The company also aims to help its fintech customers to develop capacity and gain scale by providing back-end support.

The company’s C’Gate payment-processing engine, launched in 2018, lets customers use the short codes of their banks, alongside their mobile apps, to pay for goods and services from bank accounts and wallets. The facility is available at more than 250,000 points of sale.

Telcos have previously sought to distribute health insurance products using their own airtime as a method of payment but have been blocked by regulators, Nkechika says.

The companies are “quite excited” about the scheme, and Nkechika is optimistic that on-boarding them will be quick and easy as the process will replicate existing network operations.

According to Gbadegesin O. Alawode at the University of Ibadan, only 5% of Nigerians have health insurance and 70% still finance their healthcare through out-of-pocket spending.

The research identifies inefficient payment methods as one reason for the low penetration rate.

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