After several months of speculations, the Central Bank of Nigeria is finally coming out with more details about the much anticipated central bank digital currency “the e-Naira”. 

Nigeria’s apex bank, has released new guidelines on how eNaira, a state-supported digital currency, will be regulated, designed, and issued. 

Talks about a digital currency started a few months after the present government placed a ban on Cryptocurrency trading, the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, announced plans to launch a national digital currency.

What is E-Naira?

eNaira is simply an electronic legal tender for the entire country. It is the same Naira currency but this time a digital version. 

The apex bank added that

“As a National Critical Infrastructure, the e-naira system will be subject to comprehensive security checks, all data and personally identifiable information (PII) will be kept off the ledger and will not be stored on the ledger”

e-naira

Central Bank Digital Currency vs Cryptocurrency

The question in everyone’s mind, is CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency) the same as Cryptocurrency? If yes, why would the government create something they already banned? Also what’s the purpose of this digital currency?

Digital currencies or Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) are quite different from cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies are decentralised digital coins like Bitcoin, Ethereum, USDT, Dogecoin and the likes. Cryptos are not regulated by any central authorities but CBDCs are regulated by states and in this case the CBN.

They’re basically the digital formats of any country’s currency, without exchange rates. This means the paper tender is equal to the digital tender. 

Many countries are currently exploring the possibilities of digital currency, only two countries have successfully launched CBDCs: the Bahamas launched the sand dollar in October 2020, and China launched the digital yuan earlier this year, Nigeria is on the verge of launching. Ghana is also making plans to pilot this year, and other African countries like South Africa, Egypt and Morocco are still considering the technology.

How the E-Naira works

According to a report, the digital currency will be accessible to both bank and non-bank account holders. As a means to transact value, the wallet doesn’t compete with existing banks but is awaiting the creation of wallets by banks and other innovators

CBN will institute a three-tier speed wallet system for Nigerians who are interested in acquiring the currency to meet the October 1, 2021 deadline.

The Tier 1- wallet is open to anyone without a bank account. However, users will have to submit a passport photo, a name, birth date and place, a phone number, and their address.

A N50,000 limit is in place for “Send & Receive”. The minimum requirement is the individual’s National Identity Number (NIN), which will be validated. A cumulative balance of N300,000 is fixed each day

Tier 2- wallet users require a Bank Verification Number to access transfer limits of ₦200,000 ($478) daily and a balance of ₦500,000 ($1,196). 

The Tier 3- wallet holders can transact up to ₦1,000,000 ($2,329) daily with the cumulative balance set at ₦5,000,000 ($11,961). At least a BVN is needed to get this wallet category.

The Central Bank further disclosed, neither merchants nor customers using the wallet will be charged a fee.

The Benefits of CBN digital currency (eNaira)

According to a statement gathered from CBN’s Deputy Governor, Operations, Mr Folashodun Shonubi, at the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) advocacy dialogue series 4 webinar held in Lagos. The advantages or benefits of CBN digital currency ranges from cross-border trade facilitation, financial inclusion, Reduction in financial fraud, monetary policy effectiveness, improved payment efficiency, revenue tax collection, remittance improvement, and targeted social interventions

  • Financial inclusion (Bank the unbanked)

One of the core benefits of the eNaira is its potential to strengthen the stability of the banking system as deposits become more diversified when more people are banked. The CBDC is programmed to reach both the unbanked and the underbanked population.

  • Curb financial fraud

The Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) will also make it easier for the banking system to comply with existing laws such as anti-money laundering, customer protection against fraud and ensuring the safety and stability of the payment system.

  • Strengthen the economy

Mr Shonubi also said, “The Central Bank in its implementation has ensured the e-Naira feeds our economy and provides greater value. It is efficient in national remittances and also challenges the high cost of remittances.

  • Improve payments system

The central bank digital currency offers all the benefits of cash but in digital form. Every single digital currency is an electronic version of the cash, the legal tender. When you make a cash payment, settlement is done instantly; ensuring the stability of the payment system in the long run. Digital currencies entail the same promises and even more.

  • eNaira is Safer alternative to Cryptocurrency

The Central Bank of Nigeria believes the CBDC offers a safer option from the privately issued cryptocurrency which have been based on the possibility to enable cheaper transactions but have now been used for investment. 

  • Improve the Capital market

SEC believes the CBDC, which is about to be launched in October, would help improve the capital market when combined with vibrant inter-developmental policies, which would lead to financial inclusion, especially in the capital market.

FinTechs can take advantage of this to connect their customers to existing opportunities and investment in the financial market.

Watch the Video of Everything you need to know about Enaira and its launching

Conclusion

In order to fast track the adoption of e-Naira, banks will facilitate onboarding and provide world-class customer service.

The CBN also outlined that Nigerian banks will be allowed to invite all their customers to register for the enaira digital currency.

“Besides pre-generated codes, the banks can send invitation codes for onboarding to a specific list of selected customers. Onboarding will be done for customers who have a code assigned by their banks. The banks have already validated and verified these customers.”

This move has so far received mixed reactions from industry experts and Nigerians. Many in the tech ecosystem were displeased that such an important project was Outsourced to a foreign tech company, (Barbados-based tech company Bitt inc.) when such could be given to many qualified and experienced tech companies in Nigeria. The CBN is however optimistic the pilot launch of the e-Naira would be welcomed with massive adoption. 

Let us know your opinion about the e-Naira in the comment section, would you be adopting the digital currency on October 1 or not? Kindly share!!!

Updated 11th September 2021

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