Nigeria’s CBDC website has officially launched

The nation is ahead of schedule as it was meant to launch its CBDC pilot in October

Green and white striped Nigerian flag                                 
Nigeria national flag – Photo: Shutterstock

Nigeria is set to become the first African nation to launch a central bank digital currency (CBDC) as its website for the eNaria has gone live.

The site has gone live ahead of schedule and has already received more than one million hits.

The central bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced it will be launching the pilot of the eNaria on 1 October, the country’s Independence Day.

The Nigerian CBDC site explains the role of the eNaria and states that “organisations and individuals are seeking fast, safe, easy and cheap means of payment…eNaria was minted to meet these pressing needs”.

Further, it states that the eNaria serves as both a medium of exchange and a store of value, “offering better payment prospects in retail transactions when compared to cash payments”. 

The site lists several advantages the CBDC will bring to the country. The first being growth as the eNaria will “foster economic growth by offering easier access to capital and financial services thereby increasing economic activities at low/no interest transaction rate”. This in turn is expected to increase trade and revenue for the country.

Another highlighted advantage is the inclusivity the eNaria promotes by “making financial services available to people or communities who do not have (enough) banking opportunities”.

The eNaria also has a high level of security as it cannot be forged or counterfeited due to its “unique identity and security structure”.

Countries looking into CBDC double in a year

Since 2020, the number of countries looking into a CBDC has doubled, with 81 countries now actively exploring the notion of a CBDC.

This is according to the Atlantic Council’s GeoEconomic Center CBDC tracker.

Out of the 81 countries, five have fully launched CBDCs, with The Bahamas being the first to do so. Of the remaining 76 countries, 33 are researching the idea, 15 are in development and 14 are in pilot stage.

Josh Lipsky, director of the GeoEconomics Center and former senior adviser at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said: “Before Covid-19, central bank digital currencies were largely a theoretical exercise. But with the need to distribute unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimulus around the world, combined with the rise of cryptocurrencies, central banks have quickly realised they cannot let the evolution of money pass them by.”

Nigeria: Researching the idea of a CBDC since 2017

Rakiya Mohammed, the director of information technology at CBN, revealed that Nigeria has been researching and developing the adoption of CBDC since 2017. Mohammed made the announcement via the Peoples Gazette, a Nigerian news outlet.

The CBDC initiative will be known as Project GIANT. If the pilot scheme is successful, then the nation could launch a proof of concept before the end of the year.

Further reading: HSBC chief executive backs central bank digital currencies

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