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Charges, problems, two other takeaways from CBN’s eNaira update

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It’s been about three months since the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) launched Africa’s first government-backed digital currency, but the Godwin Emefiele-led team are still struggling to get the innovation right.

This was according to some key takeaways from Emefiele’s update on the eNaira during the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting held on Tuesday, to announce the MPR.

Remember President Muhammadu Buhari, alongside Emefiele, officially introduced eNaira to Nigerians on October 25, 2021, after failing to meet the initial launch date of October 1, the same year.

Emefiele had proceeded on the mining of eNaira amid criticism, even from the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, against the CBN for banning bitcoin and cryptocurrency, restricting the adoption of the cryptoassets – all these happened in a space of one year.

As expected, that was not the last you would hear from CBN and its pet project, as Emefiele had shed more light on the progress of eNaira for “doubting thomas”, as he described critics of the CBDC during the MPC meeting.

Four takeaways from Emefiele’s revelation

Charges are coming: Yeah, the usage of eNaira might attract a fee during transactions as Emefiele said the current zero fee was just for now – which means the CBDC would become a revenue generation source for the government.

READ ALSO: Expert says CBN hurting Naira with tough policies, predicts N620/$1 exchange rate

Note at the period of its launch, the eNaira was projected to add $29 billion to the Nigerian gross domestic product (GDP) in the next 10 years, according to the government.

In the words of the chief of the financial sector regulator, “Transactions on the system has been super fast and remains free for now, by design.”

eNaira usage is low: The eNaira app is split in two applications; eNaira speed wallet (non-business users) and eNaira speed merchant wallet, with both recording about 600,000 downloads combined as of November 27 as disclosed by the CBN boss.

While Emefiele didn’t hint on recent download figure, he said 90% transactions carried out on the app was between person-to-bank and bank-to-person segment, while about 10% of the transactions are shared by person-to-merchant and bank-to-merchant.

This was because the CBN was still working around licensing payment platforms to enable trade, which had been low, considering there were more eNaira speed wallet downloads than eNaira speed merchant wallet downloads.

Ripples Nigeria had also previously reported that businesses were shying away from eNaira due to uncertainty surrounding the app’s functionality.

Unending problem: Users have been finding it hard to onboard onto the eNaira app since October, and this problem would be celebrating three months of its existence on the eNaira app, as Emefiele said the CBN had spent three months trying to find a solution.

Ripples Nigeria had first reported this challenge after observing various complaints from persons trying to register on the eNaira app with no luck. CBN was still working to fix the challenge and said considerable progress had been made.

“We spent the last three months observing and monitoring the system and addressing issues mostly around initial onboarding.” adding that “the bank has therefore, been working to simplify the process of updating such information together with the Nigerian Inter-bank System.”

Banks need telcos’ help: In order to increase adoption, Emefiele revealed that the USSD code *997# would be used for eNaira transactions, although the code was not yet effective.

In collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), CBN planned to expand the eNaira coverage to individuals without smartphones.

Meanwhile, foreigners now have access to the eNaira app, according to the CBN boss.

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