CBN’s Digital Currency Initiative Drives Financial Inclusion Deeper

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There are indications that Nigeria has entered a new wave of digitization in the financial services ecosystem following the successful implementation of the Central Bank Digital Currency, CBDC, initiative by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

Already the apex bank has signaled the commencement of the second phase of the initiative with the successful conclusion of the eNaira Hackathon program last month.

The second phase is intended to drive financial inclusion by onboarding unbanked and underserved users leveraging offline channels.

CBN’s Digital Currency Initiative Drives Financial Inclusion Deeper

The apex bank said that under the second phase Nigerians will be able to open an eNaira wallet and conduct transactions by simply dialling *997 from their mobile phones.

Speaking on the deliverables and the implementation of the CBDC program, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said when the eNaira was launched in October 2021, “the Bank promised to increase the level of financial inclusion in the country because just like the Naira, the eNaira is expected to be accessible to all Nigerians and would provide more possibilities to bring in the unbanked into the digital economy.

He said, since the launch of the initiative, the eNaira had reached 840,000 downloads, with about 270,000 active wallets comprising over 252,000 consumer wallets and 17,000 merchant wallets. In addition, he said volume and value of transactions on the platform had been remarkable, reaching above 200,000 and N4.4billion.

Besides individuals using the USSD code, the Governor said merchants and consumers with bank accounts will be able to use the NIBSS Instant Payment (NIP) to transfer and receive eNaira to any bank account, stressing that this will further deepen the integration of the eNaira with the existing national payment infrastructure.

Emefiele disclosed that despite the successes recorded on the initiative, the Bank, in collaboration with private sector operators, had started the second phase of the eNaira.

He stated: “The second phase of the project has begun and is intended to drive financial inclusion by onboarding the unbanked and the underserved users leveraging offline channels. Hence greater success is envisioned for the project with phase two expected to deliver more gains with the target of eight million users based on estimation using the diffusion of innovation model.”

Noting the success of the eNaira Hackathon, Emefiele revealed that the hackathon recorded a sizeable interest from young and innovative Nigerians with a total of 4,667 registrations, comprising 4,082 male and 582 female applicants.

He added that this feat would be “birthing innovative solutions for a modern Nigeria and the first step towards expanding the Central Bank of Nigeria’s innovative financial ecosystem”.

Also the CBN Deputy Governor, Economic Policy, Dr. Kingsley Obiora, said the use of cash, as a means of payment, was declining globally, hence the minting of currency by the central banks across the globe had reduced over the past few years.

He said the CBN had blazed the trail with the launch of the eNaira, by responding to the yearnings of digital payment system, adding that other central banks were currently understudying Nigeria’s model of the digital currency said.

“This is the way the world is going. If you don’t jump into the train, it will leave you,” he noted.

Source: Vanguard Newspaper