Nigeria’s Central Bank Announces Kickoff for eNaira Payments Starting Next Week

UTC by Tolu Ajiboye · 3 min read
Nigeria’s Central Bank Announces Kickoff for eNaira Payments Starting Next Week
City of Lagos, Nigeria. Photo: Unsplash

Nigeria’s CBN governor says that eNaira will support all kinds of payments including utility, for individuals and merchants alike.

According to reports, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will soon begin to allow payments of services, including electricity bills, TV subscriptions, and flight tickets, using the eNaira. A statement issued by the CBN read:

“Starting from next week, there is going to be an upgrade on the eNaira speed wallet app that will allow you to do transactions such as paying for DSTV or electric bills or even paying for flight tickets. Also, the USSD code *997# is out and it is just for more people to be aware of it and begin to use it.”

The governor of the central bank Godwin Emefiele believes eNaira payments, possibly from next week, will expedite financial inclusion. The move is also an attempt to popularize digital fiat currency and increase adoption in daily transactions. Currently, the premier bank has an 85% financial inclusion rate target for the eNaira in Nigeria. Furthermore, this would represent an increase of around 15% from its current rate of slightly below 70 percent.

eNaira Payments Setting the Standard for CBDCs in Africa

Looking to adopt a forward-thinking approach, the Nigerian government last year first introduced the eNaira, its official central bank digital currency (CBDC). While receiving a delegation of executive directors from the Bank of Uganda, Emefiele touched on the country’s CBDC journey. The CBN governor explained that there have already been recorded successes in the rate of integration and security features. Speaking in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja, Emefiele also said other African countries want to model Nigeria’s eNaira. Part of the central bank governor’s statement read:

“The eNaira, being the first of its kind for a large country like Nigeria, was attracting the interests of many countries, Uganda inclusive. We’ve been receiving enquiries from various Central Banks in different parts of Africa and the world, trying to understand what we are doing in the area of CBDC.”

Emefiele also announced that beyond Africa, Nigeria had also earned the attention of world-renowned financial organizations.

“We are happy that the IMF and World Bank have recognised what we are doing in the area of CBDC. However, the country has deepened its payment system infrastructure, and is ranked among the best in the world,” added he.

Emefiele also suggested that the implementation of the eNaira reflects how Nigeria’s payment system has improved under his watch. However, the sitting CBN governor also extolled his predecessor Lamido Sanusi for laying the foundational blocks for this milestone development.

Is the Digital Age of Transactions Finally Upon Nigeria?

With the eNaira upgrade incoming, some Nigerians may hold out hope for the eventual adoption of crypto in the country. Although CBDC and most cryptocurrencies differ regarding centralization status, they both have virtual status. In addition, persistent inflation and the naira’s dwindling status has strengthened Nigeria’s crypto community. However, early last year, the Nigerian government banned all crypto activities citing reasons that seemed unclear to many.

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