Nigerians to start Downloading E-naira Wallets as Central Bank launches digital currency October 1st


The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that Nigerians can begin to download e-naira wallets on their phones from October 1.

The Director, Payment System Management, at the CBN Mr. Musa Jimoh, said this during an interview on the ‘Business Morning’ programme on Channels Television.

According to him, the e-naira which is set to be launched on October 1, 2021, is a legal tender equal to the value of the naira and thus must be accepted as a form of payment by all merchants and business outlets. Jimoh said: “Today, anywhere you present naira to pay, compulsorily it must be accepted because that is our fiat currency.

So, the same way naira is accepted that you can’t reject it, is the same way e-naira must be accepted. Anywhere in this country where e-naira is presented, it must be accepted.

So, merchants must accept e-naira as a means of payment. “The liability of the enaira money is directly on CBN which is similar to the cash you hold. The liability of the cash you hold today rests with the CBN.

So, it gives Nigerians the opportunity to bank with CBN.” The CBN Director emphasised that the e-naira comes with many benefits and would save the cost of printing more notes.

“Today the cost of producing the naira and coins is very high. It costs money to print naira in this country. Now, the minting of e-naira is electronic so it reduces cost,” Jimoh stated. He also said that charges of transferring funds would be lower for those using the e-naira.

The e-Naira will be a digit representative of the paper Naira currency issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria. The eNaira will be a “complementary” legal tender in Nigeria, having the same exchange value as the Naira, and maintain a “parity of value” with the Naira. The e-Naira will not earn any interest to holders. The e-Naira is built on a blockchain open ledger technology. Creating the eNaira on the blockchain means you cannot have a duplicate or fake eNaira. Each eNaira note will be unique.

Is the e-Naira a Stablecoin?

A stable coin is a cryptocurrency backed by reserves. The keyword is reserves, but what kind of reserves? Stable coins are backed by holding an equal equivalent of FIAT money like the US dollar. FIAT means government-issued but usually not backed by any commodity, e.g., gold. Thus a stable coin like USDT is tied to a currency, the US dollar, and maintains a stable exchange value. Note, stable, not immovable. The eNaira technically is linked to the FIAT Naira, but is the Naira stable? Well, not exactly. To be a stablecoin, the eNaira has to be tied to a currency like the US Dollar or Euro or even the Yuan.

How safe is the e-Naira?

Think of the e-Naira in this way; you want to send N100 to an uncle in a remote village without a bank branch. A common practice is to buy mobile phone recharge cards of that value, load them to your phone, and text your uncle. Your uncle can then go to any phone card retailer and discount his N100 mobile phone credit for N95. The mobile retailer can redeem the call credits and pay cash because he trusts the person doing the exchange; however, he cannot tell if the mobile numbers are real.

The eNaira is designed to solve this verification risk by assuring all holders that each eNaira is a valid token. This authenticity is achieved by building the eNaira on the blockchain. Thus instead of buying phone credits, I will debit my bank account for N100, convert to eNaira, and transfer it to my uncle. My uncle can spend the funds directly from his phone or transfer and get cash. Every retailer is more likely to accept the eNaira because it can’t be easily faked.

How will I get the e-Naira?

The CBN has planned a rollout in a tiered manner; first, it will issue the e-Naira, to financial institutions like banks. Your bank will then retail the e-Naira to you. If your transaction value is less than N50,000 a day, you don’t need a bank account to get the eNaira; you can use a NIN verified phone number to buy eNaira. If you want to withdraw more than N50,000 but up to the daily limit of N1 million, then you will need a BVN in addition to a NIN verified phone number. The CBN has very strict ‘Know Your Customers” protocols for this process, the aim being to assure all retailers of the safety and utility of the eNaira.

Why should I use the e-Naira?

The eNaira has a low-cost advantage when compared to FIAT. The daily transfers between accounts are at no cost to the holder of the account. Lower transaction cost is a massive incentive as traders will pay no fees for withdrawals and deposits to and from their bank account. No transaction fees reduce the cost of commerce while improving safety.

How will dollar remittance to e-Naira work?

The e-Naira will be integrated into the CBN’s forex process, and this is to make it easier to receive remittances to Nigeria. These transfers could be from the CBN crediting e-Naira directly to the International Money Transfer Organisation (IMTO). A Nigerian abroad sending $100 to his uncle can debit his US bank account and credit $100 to an IMTO, who will buy eNaira from their corresponding Nigerian bank. The $100 is converted to e-Naira instantly at a far lower transfer fee which is a real benefit and a significant advantage the e-Naira will enjoy.

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Written by Andrew Odoe
Serial Entrepreneur, Humanitarian, Social Activist and Writer.
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