Barely 18 days after its launch, 488,000 consumer wallets have been on-boarded to Nigeria’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) platform known as the eNaira from over 160 countries through Google Playstore and Apple Store as of Friday.
Data obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at the weekend, also showed that about 78,000 merchant wallets have also been on-boarded to the digital currency infrastructure.
Also, transactions on the eNaira stood at about 17,000 valued at over N62 million.
This is an indication of growing enthusiasm for the central bank’s digital currency, which has been described as a game-changer.
The digital platform had recorded about 200,000 wallets downloads in less than one day that the portal came alive.
“So far, we have on-boarded over 488,000 consumer wallets and about 78,000 merchant wallets, with these downloads occurring in over 160 countries (per Google Playstore and Apple Store data).
“We have also recorded almost 17,000 transactions amounting to over N62million with the average transaction being about $9.3 each. These numbers suggest the adoption rate has been excellent.
“It is a direct liability of the bank, a legal tender and will form part of the currency-in-circulation and will be at par with the physical naira,” CBN said.
The eNaira was officially unveiled on October 25, 2021, by President Muhammadu Buhari who said the electronic money would boost the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $29 billion in the next 10 years.
Nigeria is the first country in Africa and one of the first in the world to introduce digital currency.
Buhari had said: “Indeed, some estimates indicate that the adoption of CBDC and its underlying technology, called blockchain, can increase Nigeria’s GDP by $29 billion over the next 10 years.
“CBDCs can also help increase remittances, foster cross border trade, improve financial inclusion, make monetary policy more effective, and enable the government to send direct payments to citizens eligible for specific welfare programmes.”
The president further assured Nigerians of the safety and scalability of the CBDC, adding that the journey to create a digital currency for Nigeria began in 2017.
On his part, CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had said with growing interest in CBDC around the world, the CBN had commenced extensive study, consultations, identification of use cases, and the testing of the CBDC concept in a Sandbox environment as far back as 2017.
He said the objective of the research was to establish a compelling case for the adoption of a digital currency in the country to enable a more prosperous and inclusive economy for all Nigerians.
He added that following the completion of the preliminary work, the researchers and experts at the CBN were able to establish that a digital currency will drive a more cashless, inclusive, and digital economy as well as complement the gains of previous policy measures and our fast-growing payments platforms.
He said CBN decided to implement its own CBDC and to name the digital currency, the eNaira, and believes the innovation will make a significant positive difference to Nigeria and Nigerians.
Specifically, Emefiele said the eNaira will support a resilient payment system ecosystem, encouraging rapid financial inclusion, reducing the cost of processing cash, enabling direct and transparent welfare intervention to citizens, and increasing revenue and tax collection.
He had also said eNaira would also facilitate diaspora remittances, reduce the cost of financial transactions, and improve the efficiency of payments.
He added: “Therefore, the eNaira is Nigeria’s CBDC and it is the digital equivalent of the physical Naira. 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.”
Emefiele said in a bid to further de-risk the process, the CBN had given careful consideration to the entire payments and financial architecture and has designed the eNaira to complement and strengthen these ecosystems, adding that the bank had also implemented security safeguards and policies to maintain the integrity of the financial system.
The CBN boss added that there would be strict adherence to the anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) standards to preserve the integrity and stability of Nigeria’s payment system.
According to him, 33 banks had been fully integrated and are live on the platform while N500 million had been successfully minted by the central bank including N200 million which had been issued to financial institutions.
Emefiele said the country had made history with the eNaira launch, pointing out that this would be the first in Africa and one of the earliest around the world.
James Emejo in Abuja