The e-Naira launch which was scheduled to launch today has been postponed to a later date by the Central Bank of Nigeria. According to what Osita Nwanisobi; the Director of Corporate Communications of the Central Bank said yesterday, the launch of the e-Naira was delayed due to other significant activities that have been lined up to commemorate Nigeria’s 61st Independence Anniversary. The launch date has been reportedly shifted to the 4th of October 2014.
With the long-awaited day of Nigeria’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) just a few days, like a present wrapped in a pretty package, we are here to unwrap it and let you know everything the e-Naira has to offer.
The Central Bank of Nigeria announced the e-Naira months ago during an online news briefing at the end of a Bankers Committee meeting held months ago. The announcement came not too long after the ban of cryptocurrency in the country which remained a controversial topic for debate. The e-Naira has also been hot on tables of discussions since its announcement as there are varying expectations from the central bank digital currency. In just a few days, we’ll get to experience the e-naira and make up our minds about it.
Although it didn’t launch today as planned, the imminent e-Naira launch will still commemorate Nigeria’s 61st anniversary as an independent nation.
What is the e-Naira?
The e-Naira is Nigeria’s central bank digital currency, and a central bank digital currency, in turn, is a digital form of fiat money. The e-Naira is therefore the electronic, digital or virtual version of Nigeria’s naira.
The e-naira is naira’s digital extension that can be used just like the fiat naira and fulfils the traditional functions of money such as transactions, remittances, payments, etc., but this time on a digital level. The e-Naira stems from the central bank’s desire to regulate the digital economy, reduce the financial inclusion gap, make foreign remittances easy, among other reasons.
Let’s examine what the central bank itself has to say about the e-naira.
According to information on the central bank’s e-naira website, “e-Naira is a Central Bank of Nigeria-issued digital currency that provides a unique form of money denominated in Naira. e-Naira serves as both a medium of exchange and a store of value, offering better payment prospects in retail transactions when compared to cash payments. e-Naira has an exclusive operational structure that is both remarkable and nothing like other forms of central bank money”.
The website also explained how the e-Naira differs from other central bank digital currencies and why Nigerians should be excited about it. “When the idea was mooted, it was not a bandwagon response to create a CBDC like the rest of the world. We set out with a plan to become a trusted ally to the numerous customers we will serve and our roots continue to be firmly grounded in them. We know what they need because we listen to them every step of the way. No matter where we are in the journey, our goal remains the same – you”, it said.
The e-Naira, according to the CBN is a user and serviced-focused digital currency that aims to revolutionalize the financial space in Nigeria.
According to the Central Bank of Nigeria, what makes the e-Naira different from bank deposits is that “eNaira is the digital form of the cash and is a direct liability on the Central Bank of Nigeria while the customer deposits are direct liabilities on the financial institutions”.
How and where will the e-Naira work?
Like every other digital currency, the e-Naira will be used alongside a wallet called the e-Naira wallet. This wallet will allow Nigerians to be able to store funds, make transactions, and track payment histories. The e-Naira wallet is the main interface for using the e-naira.
The e-Naira wallet will, on a large scale, eliminate the need to carry a physical wallet. The e-Naira wallet, which is accessible via users’ mobile phones will store users’ digital cash as well as their payment information more securely. They will also protect the data of Nigerians which have long been susceptible to misuse by companies that collect these consumer data. In other words, the e-naira wallet will provide Nigerians with privacy.
For now, users will be able to access and use the e-Naira using the central bank’s e-Naira wallet, but the apex bank made it known that commercial banks and other financial institutions will be able to issue a digital wallet for the e-Naira. These commercial banks and financial institutions are expected to integrate their e-Naira wallet with existing platforms that they use to offer financial services. These platforms include via the web, mobile app and possibly USSD.
The e-naira wallet is now available for download and you can download it by clicking here.
As for where the e-Naira will work, the central bank has assured that it will be used alongside the naira for every transaction service. The apex bank has mandated all businesses, merchants and service providers to accept the e-Naira. It is therefore expected that the e-Naira can be used when Nigerians step into malls, service centres, airports, rail stations, basically everywhere within the shores of Nigeria.
What are digital wallets?
Alternatively referred to as e-wallets, digital wallets are systems based on computer software that holds digital currencies as well as the payment information and passwords of users used for different payment methods and websites.
In other words, digital or e-wallets are virtual wallets with which people can hold their digital money, pay for transactions and make online investments. Apart from the primary function of holding digital money, these wallets can also be used to store digital coupons, loyalty card information from online stores and automatically make online payments.
What are the advantages of using the e-Naira?
Although the e-Naira has received more criticism than praise when examined critically and if allowed to walk the path it was created for, the e-Naira could prove to become one of the catalysts to take Nigeria’s digital economy to the next level.
Some of these benefits than the e-Naira will provide include;
- Financial inclusion
One reason why fintech companies and other financial digital-centred companies have thrived irrespective of the ever-increasing challenges is because of the roles that they play in bridging the financial inclusion gap. According to a report by the African Development Bank (AfDB), evidence shows that Africans and businesses in the continent, compared to their counterparts in other parts of the world, are more likely to lack access to financial services irrespective of their size group. The CBN hopes to narrow the financial inclusion gap with the e-Naira. Normally, to gain access to financial services, one would have to open a bank account, but to access the e-naira and its wallet a bank account is not needed.
“e-Naira provides financial inclusion by making financial services available to people or communities who do not have (enough) banking opportunity”, the e-Naira website says.
The e-Naira, alongside other central bank digital currencies (CBDC), has very strong security. It cannot be counterfeited or forged because of its unique identity and the way its security structure has been designed.
One of the government functions is welfare. The use of the e-Naira will assist the government to be able to achieve its welfare-related goals faster and at lesser costs. The e-Naira system will be more effective and efficient in the distribution of cash-based welfare packages meant for households.
The e-Naira website says that “e-Naira enables the effective, equitable, and faster distribution of cash assistance to household and communities included in government social welfare programs”.
- Trade and cross-border payments
Digital money helps make trades and cross-border payments be completed faster, more securely and efficiently. With the e-Naira, Nigerians should expect faster payments for both domestic and cross border payments. One other thing that the e-Naira will do is make all these transactions cheaper than other available options.
- Foreign remittances
“E-Naira provides a secure and cheaper diaspora remittance option and increases in the speed of such transactions”, the e-Naira website says.
With the e-Naira, foreign remittances are expected to be completed seamlessly and in real-time, while being completely free from challenges associated with other options.
Other benefits of the e-Naira include;
- Monitoring cash inflow and outflow to prevent money laundering and money being used to fund illicit activities.
- To foster economic growth by providing wider access to financial services.
- Reducing the cost associating with revenue collection.
What are the likely challenges/impediment that the e-naira may face?
Some of the possible challenges that the e-Naira is expected to face include;
- Slow rate of adoption
The rate of adoption for the e-Naira is expected to be low, the central bank says. At first, the rate of adoption for the e-Naira is expected to be low but is expected to pick up with time.
- The systems to support the e-Naira may not be adequate
We live in a country that’s still developing. There might not be adequate systems to support the use of the e-Naira. For example, how does one pay a local conductor who might be illiterate or semi-illiterate with a digital currency? Or how does one conduct business with a streetside seller who doesn’t have an internet-enabled phone using the e-Naira?
- The people’s trust in government initiatives
Nigerians are still very sceptical about the e-Naira. In Nigeria, there is a lack of trust in the government, government policies and initiatives. The e-Naira may truly be good, but the average Nigerian will remain sceptical about it until convinced otherwise.
- People feel that the e-Naira might just be a trap and highly criticize the limitations on its wallet
The e-Naira wallet comes in three tiers and a special wallet for merchants. These tiers all have how they operate and come with their special limitations. People feel that this wallet will impede their financial freedom because of their spending limitations.
Where to go for support should there be issues?
Nigerians can contact the central bank for support if they encounter any issue using the e-naira by sending a direct message to their social media platforms.
e-Naira support can be found on the following social media platforms;
Or by simply visiting this web address –https://enaira.com/about/contact-us
The e-Naira is packed with lots of benefits for Nigerians and if it follows the path it was designed for, it promises to be the best thing that the Nigerian financial scene may ever experience.
While we await its launch, where do you stand on the e-Naira?