Nigeria Central Bank Governor Reports ‘Overwhelming Interest’ for its Newly Launched CBDC eNaira

Nigeria has launched its own digital currency, eNaira, to become the first African nation to do so. The central bank digital currency (CBDC) is expected to expand people’s access to banking, enable remittances, and help grow the economy by billions of dollars.

Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele said there had been “overwhelming interest and encouraging response” to the CBDC.

During the launch, Emefiele further said that already 33 banks, 120 merchants, and 2,000 customers had registered successfully with the platform, available via an app on Apple and Android.

He added that about 200 million fiat currency worth of eNaira has been issued to financial institutions, which will maintain parity with the traditional currency.

President Muhammadu Buhari, meanwhile, said that the use of digital currency could grow the economy by $29 billion over ten years. It will also enable direct government welfare payments and even increase the tax base, he added.

The country is ranked 7th in the 2021 Global Crypto Adoption Index, according to blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis.

Ikemesit Effiong, head of research with Lagos-based consultancy SBM Intelligence argues that the central bank had not yet made it clear if users can transfer eNaira back into fiat naira, whether there would be physical locations to use and transfer eNaira, and if crypto can be used to buy or sell the CBDC.

“It’s not clear looking at the CBN’s body of work that Nigerians would be comfortable using this,” he told Reuters, adding:

“There are more questions than answers, even though we are looking at the launch of this digital currency. The fact that this is the case so late in the game is concerning.”

Only three local television channels were allowed to attend the launch of eNaira, and officials took no questions.

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