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eNaira: Nigeria becomes first African country to launch a CBDC

Nigeria joins the list of countries with a CBDC as the CBN launches the eNaira.

Nigeria joins the list of countries to have launched a CBDC following the launch of the eNaira on Monday, becoming the first African country to do so. The CBN initially planned on launching the eNaira at the beginning of this month but failed to do so, citing a conflict with independence Day as a reason.

“The CBN took the decision to postpone the launch, which had been initially planned to coincide with the Independence anniversary, in deference to the mood of national rededication to the collective dream of One Nigeria." Osita Nwanisobi

Speaking during the launch of the eNaira, the CBN governor Godwin Emefiele said, "overwhelming interest and encouraging response." Citing that 33 banks, 2,000 customers and 120 merchants had already registered successfully with the platform. Some 200 million naira' worth of eNaira, which will maintain parity with the traditional currency, has been issued to financial institutions.

The CBN Governor also explained that the eNaira and the physical Naira are the same legal tender and will have the same value, which will be accepted anywhere in the country.

”As the tagline simply encapsulates, the eNaira is the same Naira with far more possibilities. The eNaira – like the physical Naira – is a legal tender in Nigeria and a liability of the CBN. The eNaira and Naira will have the same value and will always be exchanged at 1 naira to 1 eNaira,” he added.

The digital currency has two applications – eNaira speed wallet and eNaira merchant wallet. Emefiele revealed that “customers who download the eNaira Speed Wallet App will be able to perform the following: onboard and create their wallet; fund their eNaira wallet from their bank account; transfer eNaira from their wallet to another wallet and make payment for purchases at registered merchant locations.”

The CBN, he added, “will continue to refine, fine-tune and upgrade the eNaira”, and he assured that “Nigerians should expect to see additional functionalities in the coming months”.

Some of the additional functionalities include accessibility and onboarding of customers without BVN and the use of the eNaira on phones without the internet to further drive financial inclusion further, making Nigeria one of the first countries in the world to deploy the CBDC via USSD on phones without relying on internet connectivity.

Nigeria in focus

GDP: $432.294 billion in 2020 compared to $448.12 billion in 2019

Population: 206,139,587 in 2020 compared to 200,963,03 in 2019

GDP per capita: $2,097 in 2020 compared to $2,229 in 2019