Nigeria to load CBDC eNaira with more features, aims to onboard millions of unbanked people

The Nigerian government is working to build the functional capacity of its digital currency, called eNaira. Launched as Africa’s first-ever CBDC in October last year, eNaira now boasts new features, aimed at integrating unbanked Nigerian citizens into the country’s existing financial system. The Nigerian government aims to get more than eight million people to adopt eNaira as a form of payment in the coming months. Details of eNaira-related developments were announced by Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria during a recent hackathon.

The Nigerian authorities will soon allow eNaira users to create wallets for the CBDC by dialing a four-digit code on their mobile phone, whether or not they have bank accounts.

In addition, the specially created eNaira Hackathon platform will be integrated into the CBDC to increase its functionality. The hackathon platform will connect people with eNaira developers and coders to ensure quick resolution of any issues or glitches.

“We have no choice but to live with the fact that we are now in a digital economy, in a digital space, where the user[s] of cash will dissipate almost to zero,” Emefiele said in a statement.

Since launch, eNaira has garnered over 840,000 downloads from over 270,000 active wallets. So far, around 200,000 transactions worth over $9.5 million (around Rs. 75 crore) have been recorded via eNaira digital currency.

Earlier in May, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) reportedly started looking to allow people to use eNaira for everyday payments such as booking airline tickets and paying utility bills.

According to CBN official Bariboloka Koyor, the main difference between eNaira transactions and traditional online payment methods is the transaction processing speed.

The crypto market in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa together recorded 1,200% growth, reaching a market valuation of $105.6 billion (about Rs. 775 crore) in one year, a report by Chainalysis had claimed in September of last year.

Research firm Triple-A estimated that over 13 million Nigerians owned cryptocurrencies in 2021. This represents 6.3% of the total population of Nigeria.

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