Nigerians without access to the internet can now access the e-Naira and its related services. While speaking at the recently held e-Naira Hackathon – a project born out of the collaboration between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the African Fintech Foundry (AFF), the Central Bank Governor Godwin Enefiele promised that the e-Naira and its related service would be available to Nigerians via USSD. “By next week, Nigerians, both banked and unbanked, will be able to open an e-Naira wallet and conduct transactions by simply dialing *997# from their phones,” he said.
The Governor also mentioned during the Hackathon that the e-Naira speed wallet app has recorded 200,000 users and ₦4 billion worth of transactions since it launched in October last year.”
The government embarked on providing access to the e-Naira via USSD to increase adoption and to include Nigerians without access to the internet (and the unbanked and underbanked) in the e-Naira’s features. In Nigeria, only about 50 percent of adults are bank customers making them ineligible for financial services, but the e-Naira will include everyone.
The USSD access is part of the e-Naira’s second phase which the apex bank governor spoke about during the hackathon. This second phase is highly-concentrated on raising the e-Naira’s adoption via financial inclusion. The first stage focused on banked customers in Nigeria.
The CBN Governor, represented by Deputy Governor of Operations Folashodun Adenisi-Shonubi inaugurated the USSD transaction code last week in Kano at the e-Naira fair.
In order to promote financial inclusion and give Nigerians access to unlimited opportunities through financial services, the new code *997# was introduced.“It captures the slogan ‘same naira, more possibilities, and is designed to positively impact the lives of Nigerians, and transform the economy. The e-Naira is expected to enhance inclusion, support poverty reduction, enable direct welfare disbursement to citizens, support a resilient payments ecosystem, and improve availability and usability of central bank money,” the representative said.
It is estimated that 35.9 percent of Nigerians do not have access to formal financial services and about 45 percent do not have bank accounts, hence the need for e-Naira as 106 million adults or almost 81 percent of the population in Nigeria have mobile phones.
“In addition, there are 150 million mobile subscribers in Nigeria, according to NCC, June 2022. Therefore, e-Naira seeks to leverage the huge opportunity mobile telecommunication presents, as a distribution channel, for the offering of digital services to the underserved and unbanked population,” he added.
Since its inauguration, e-Naira has reached 840,000 downloads, with about 270,000 active wallets comprising more than 252,000 consumer wallets and 17,000 merchant wallets. In addition, the volume and value of transactions have been remarkable reaching above 200,000 and ₦4 billion naira respectively.