UPDATE 1-South Africa's MTN aims to offer mobile banking in Nigeria next year

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CAPE TOWN, Nov 13 (Reuters) - MTN Group will apply for a mobile banking license in Nigeria and launch a service there next year, its CEO said on Tuesday, further embedding the South African telecoms company in its biggest but increasingly problematic market.

"We will be applying for a payment service banking license in Nigeria in the next month or so, and if all goes according to plan, we will also be launching Mobile Money in Nigeria probably around Q2 of 2019," Rob Shuter told a telecoms conference in Cape Town.

MTN, Africa's biggest telecoms company, has faced challenges in Nigeria where it has been ordered by the central bank to return $8.1 billion which the bank said was illegally sent abroad, and in a separate case has been slapped with a $2 billion tax bill in Nigeria. It is in talks with the central bank about the $8 billion fund transfer.

The success of mobile money over in east Africa, pioneered by Kenya's Safaricom, has convinced investors and the industry that financial services is the next growth area for telecoms to offset falling prices for basic services.

Shuter, who has led MTN since last year, also said the company would relaunch mobile money services in South Africa, two years after canning the service. The company has also bought a music streaming business Simfy, which Shuter said was "Africa's leading music streaming business." (Reporting by Wendell Roelf Editing by James Macharia and Susan Fenton)