CBN, payment system operators move to fast-track e-Naira usage

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), payment service providers (PSPs) and other players in financial technology (fintech) explore options for expanding the adoption of e-Naira.

At the end of the deliberation in Lagos,  the parties resolved to work together to ensure a faster rate of adoption of the central bank digital currency (CBDC).

Many stakeholders have assessed the adoption rate as sluggish. The Guardian had reported last week that a total of 488,000 consumer wallets and 78,000 merchant wallets had been downloaded across 160 countries since its launch.

Statistics from the apex Bank also showed that 17,000 transactions amounting to about N62 million, with the average transaction being about N3, 800 each had been completed.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), last week, said the CBDC promises to improve on the dwindling remittances to Nigeria. But there are concerns about the snail rate of adoption, which many observers said could only increase with more aggressive awareness.

Speaking at yesterday’s meeting, the Director, Information Technology Department (ITD) at the CBN, Rakiya Mohammed, said the CBN was neither competing with the deposit money banks (DMBs) nor other operators in the Nigerian payment system ecosystem.

Mohammed explained that the engagement was in continuation of the bank’s strategy to bring all stakeholders on board on the journey to redefine the payments system, noting that the CBN was open to suggestions aimed at adding value to the eNaira implementation.

She also urged the payment service providers to find more innovative ways to support members of the public in the onboarding process and using eNaira as well as develop solutions for offline eNaira functions, including cards, wearables and USSD.

Mohammed disclosed that the full implementation of the eNaira, which started with the onboarding of banks, would be done in four phases, culminating in offline eNaira payments solutions, cross-border payment and interoperability of the eNaira with other CBDCs.

Going forward, the CBN team and the different stakeholder groups agreed to meet periodically to review the progress made to enable more Nigerians to access eNaira.

The different groups present at the engagement were PSB, switching and processing companies, mobile money operators, payment solution service providers, payment terminal service providers and super agents.

Also present were representatives of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), Shared Agent Network Expansion Facilities (SANEF) and the Committee of eBanking Industry Heads.

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