Nigeria’s e-Naira goes live

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By Morenike Bailey

The Nigeria Central Bank digital currency, e-Naira is now live barely 24 hours after launch .

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The digital currency was unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja after the initial October 1 date was aborted.

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Nigeria joins four other countries in the world, and first in Africa, to develop and launch digital currency. At least 14 other countries are at the pilot stages of launching theirs, according to the Atlantic Council’s tracker.

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“We have become the first country in Africa and one of the first in the world to introduce a digital currency to our citizens,” Buhari said at the official launch.

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The Central Bank of Nigeria engaged a Barbados-based digital financial technology firm, Bitt Inc, as a technical partner to develop the e-Naira.

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With operations spreading across the Caribbean, Bitt utilises blockchain and distributed ledger technology to facilitate peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions with mobile money across a suite of Bitt’s Software and mobile applications.

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Nigeria has so far launched two mobile applications – eNaira speed wallet and eNaira merchant wallet – on Google playstore and Apple store for the usage of digital currency.

CBN said the guidelines on how to navigate the applications “seeks to provide simplicity in the operation of eNaira, encourage general acceptability and use, promote the low cost of transactions, drive financial inclusion while minimizing inherent risks of disintermediation of any negative impact on the financial system.”

CBN governor Godwin Emefiele in August listed the benefits of the e-Naira to include increased cross-border trade and accelerated financial inclusion.

At the launch on Monday, Emefiele, said 500 million eNaira ($1.21 million) has already been minted.

One of the advantages of the eNaira is that it allows traceability which makes it difficult for individuals or organisations to make fraudulent transactions.

It is also expected to provide a secured and cheaper diaspora remittance option.

As an extra benefit, the CBN assures that financial government aids will get straight to the people, as it knocks the middle men out the way to enable transparency while individuals can claim funds directly.

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