In a statement, the apex bank said that over 488,000 consumer wallets have been onboarded so far, with around 78,000 merchant wallets being acquired. The statement further stated that these downloads have occurred across 160 countries, according to data obtained from the Google Playstore and the Apple Store.
The bank also revealed that close to 17,000 transactions have been recorded, amounting to over N62 million. The average transaction falls at $9.3 each, as the numbers suggest a successful adoption rate.
The country’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), the eNaira was officially unveiled by the Federal Government in October, in the country’s capital Abuja. The CBN stated that the launch of the CBDC was a result of several years of solid research in pushing the boundaries of the payment system, in order to make financial transactions much easier for all the classes of society.
The eNaira is also explained by the CBN as the digital form of the Naira, the country’s official currency and is issued in accordance with Section 19 of the CBN Act. The CBN stated that the eNaira is a legal tender and a direct liability of the bank. The CBDC will form part of the circulating currency and will be on the same level with the physical naira.
The guidelines introduced by the CBN concerning the eNaira state that the digital currency will complement the physical naira as a less costly, safe, more efficient and generally acceptable means of payment.
These numbers – which come less than a month after the official unveiling of the digital currency – show a general anticipation of the CBDC, both domestically (in Nigeria) and in the international market. The high number of downloads shows that people all over the world (Nigerian or not) have been patiently waiting for the digital currency to come out, so that they can acquire it. This bodes well for the future of the digital currency, which looks to be used very often when it finally kicks off properly.
eNaira Compatible With Other Countries’ Digital Currencies
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has stated that the execution of the country’s digital currency will be done in four different phases, and also lead to the cooperation of the eNaira with the digital currencies from other central banks.
This was said at the licensed payment service providers’ engagement session by the apex bank’s Director of the Information Technology Department, Rakiya Mohammed. The session took place in Lagos on Monday and consisted of interaction with a much wider category of industry players.
A statement released by Rakiya Mohammed stated that the CBN and important stakeholders in the payments ecosystem, especially the Payment Service Providers (PSPs) and a wide community of fintech groups, during the engagement session decided to collaborate and ensure that the eNaira which was launched recently is adopted by more people or groups.
Mohammed stated that the complete execution of the digital currency would be done in four different phases, which would culminate in eNaira payment solutions offline, payment across borders and the “interoperability of the eNaira with those of other central banks.”
She also confirmed that the CBN was not competing with the Deposit Banks, neither was it competing with other actors in the payment system space in Nigeria.
According to Mohammed, the engagement session was a continuation of the CBN’s plan to include every stakeholder. She also stated that the country’s apex bank was welcoming of any suggestions and transformations which are directed at adding value to the digital currency and improving the currency’s user experience.
The PSPs (as well as the huge community of fintech groups) were also encouraged to look for more innovative ways to assist members of the public when possible, in the onboarding process and use of eNaira. They have also been encouraged to develop solutions for offline eNaira services, which include cards, wearables and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD).
CBN Urges Nigerians to Embrace eNaira amid Bitcoin Surge
The Central Bank of Nigeria has continued to encourage Nigerians to embrace the eNaira, Africa’s first Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).
The appeal was made by the Director of the Corporate Communications Department of the CBN, Osita Nwanisobi at the Lagos International Trade Fair.
After inflation data from the United States further strengthened the notion that Bitcoin is a hedge against rising cost pressures, Bitcoin hit another record high and is currently weaving around the $64,000 range. However, the CBN’s ban on cryptocurrency transactions will not enable Nigeria to benefit from the fast-booming crypto market.
The CBN is introducing the eNaira to give the country’s citizens a secure option and satisfy those who have a high appetite for blockchain technology.
Nwanisobi highlighted some of the benefits of the new digital currency, stating that it is expected to “deepen financial inclusion” by bringing more Nigerians into the financial space, support a payment ecosystem with recognizable resilience, reduce the cost of processing cash in the country, enable direct intervention to the welfare of citizens while being completely transparent in dealings, increase transparency in the collection of tax collections and revenue, and reduce the cost of financial transactions.
Nwanisobi also mentioned that the digital currency will facilitate remittances concerning the diaspora, and improve the efficacy of regular payments.
Nwanisobi also acknowledged the positive responses to the launch of the digital currency. He said that customers who download the eNaira Speed Wallet App will be able to create a wallet, fund said wallet from their own bank accounts, transfer eNaira from their wallet to another eNaira wallet, and make payments for purchases at some registered locations. Nwanisobi referred to the naira (physical) as the pride of the nation, urging citizens to embrace the eNaira the way the naira is being embraced.
The CBN’s stance on cryptocurrency has since been known to be negative, as Nwanisobi himself once stated in an email that the Nigerian financial system lacks adequate space for cryptocurrency.
eNaira: CBN Plans To Introduce New App For Unbanked Individual
Following the launch of the eNaira App last month, the Central Bank of Nigeria is planning to launch a new eNaira application for unbanked individuals. According to the apex bank, inclusion is a core objective of the eNaira.
Brian Popelka, the Chief Executive Officer of Bitt Inc., Nigeria’s technical partner on eNaira in a recent interview said that a new phone application for individuals without bank accounts will be rolled out.
In an interview with CoinDesk, Popelka said, “In Nigeria, it is a methodological rollout; this is our initial stage. A phone app specific for folks that are unbanked will be rolling out very soon, considering the fast follow-up from us.
“So that is how we see the financial inclusion question coming through. As far as interest goes, it is hard to say this early what the interest is. I imagine that the concept has a newness to it; people want to understand the inner workings of it and what to use it for.”
Brian Popelka said the company’s past digital experience with Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean came in handy to tackle the challenges that occurred in the process of launching the eNaira app.
Popelka added, “It is a sort of methodological rollout. We like the idea that there are stages. Nigeria has a very foursome rollout for all of the users for which we hope to get to over the course of many years, which means that they and we, of course, are in it for the long haul.
“Post-launch though, as you can imagine, as the initial rollouts, it is really just sign-ups. Well, the central bank has minted and disbursed digital currencies to several key financial institutions. And therefore, there are merchants and consumers that are really just getting into the app store, downloading the app, and moving their traditional currencies into digital format at this stage.”
Bitt Inc. CEO said that Financial institutions are saddled with the responsibilities of ensuring that more individuals trust and make use of eNaira.
The CEO also affirmed that individual transaction histories on the eNaira app would not be accessible to the government, however, the bulk transaction histories would be accessible to FG.
In order to track fraud and other illegal activities, the banks would have access to individual transactions histories.
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