All you need to know about the e-Naira set to be launched on October 1
The official website of the upcoming Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) digital currency, the eNaira, has gone live, exactly one week to the planned launch of the initiative.
Remarkably, 24-hours after the website went live; it has recorded over one million hits, according to analytics monitored by THISDAY.
The development shows a reflection of the level of interest in the proposed digital currency.
The website promises easier financial transactions for users of eNaira, offers opportunity for peer-to-peer payments which allows users to send money to one another through a linked bank account or card; allows customers to move money from their bank account to their eNaira wallet with ease; can monitor their eNaira wallet, check balances and view transaction history; and make in-store payment using their eNaira wallet by scanning QR codes.
In addition, customers are allowed to scan the QR Code on the website to get started.
CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, while speaking to a gathering of foreign investors in New York, recently, had told his audience that because of activities surrounding the country’s Independence celebration on October 1, the earlier planned launch of the eNaira on same date would likely be rescheduled to October 4, 2021.
“The central bank would not want the event to take the shine away from the Independence celebration,” he said.
“We are going to be the first country in Africa to launch a digital currency. It is a novel idea because we think it will facilitate trade, Nigeria being the biggest economy in Africa, this will set the tone to tell Africa that we are ready to lead and we would indeed lead in trade and we would make sure that happens.
“Between all central bankers in ECOWAS, we are already working on certain collaboration to make trade, payment and banking system integrate in such a way to set example on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” he added.
In line with global trend, the CBN recently took a major step towards the launch of its digital currency with its formal announcement of its engagement of global fintech company, Bitt Inc. as its technical partner for the project. To choose the technical partner, the CBN went through a rigorous vendor selection process in line with the Public Procurement Act, conducted by seven departmental directors and a Deputy Governor whereby several companies were evaluated. The evaluation was based on the following criteria: technology ownership and control; implementation timeline; efficiency, ease of adoption; support for anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT); platform security; interoperability; implementation experience.
Emefiele expressed optimism that the eNaira, would bring about increased cross-border trade, accelerate financial inclusion and lead to cheaper and faster remittance inflow. He said the digital money would lead to easier targeted social interventions, as well as improvement in monetary policy effectiveness, payment systems efficiency, and tax collection.
According to him, after its unveiling, Nigerians should be able to download the eNaira app from either Google plays store or Apple app store, on board themselves and fund their eNaira wallet using their bank account or with cash at a registered agent location.
“If you are a bank customer and you have say N10 million in your bank account, for your comfort of spending and making purchase, you can tell the bank to load N2 million out of your N10 million into your wallet.
“So, your bank balance in physical cash drops to N8 million, while your e-wallet carries N2 million. With that you can make purchases both within and across the country.
“There are so many variance of the eNaira. But this is where we would start because we are not going to pretend that there are not risks in opening your system up. We would look at the various products, determine the risk, determine the best way to mitigate the risk before we now open it up more and more,” Emefiele added.
Also shedding more light on Bitts, he said, “we chose them as a partner. In some other climes where they are, they have their software and they earn their money. But we chose that they would establish their company in Nigeria. “The CBN will own substantially stake in that company. It is a company that will be established in Nigeria and majority holding will be the CBN,” he added.
On his part, the CBN’s Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, explained that the eNaira project had been a long and thorough process for the apex bank following its resolve in 2017, to digitise the local currency after extensive research and exploration.
Meanwhile, China’s central bank last weekend announced that all transactions of crypto-currencies are illegal, effectively banning digital tokens such as Bitcoin.
“Virtual currency-related business activities are illegal financial activities,” the BBC quoted People’s Bank of China to have said, warning it “seriously endangers the safety of people’s assets”. China is one of the world’s largest crypto-currency markets. Fluctuations there often impact the global price of crypto-currencies.
The price of Bitcoin fell by more than $2,000 (£1,460) in the wake of the Chinese announcement.
It was the latest in China’s national crackdown on what it sees as a volatile, speculative investment at best – and a way to launder money at worst. Trading crypto-currency had officially been banned in China since 2019, but had continued online through foreign exchanges. However, there has been a significant crackdown this year.
In May, Chinese state intuitions warned buyers they would have no protection for continuing to trade Bitcoin and other currencies online, as government officials vowed to increase pressure on the industry.
In June, it told banks and payment platforms to stop facilitating transactions and issued bans on “mining” the currencies – the trade of using powerful computers to make new coins.
All you need to know about the e-Naira set to be launched on October 1
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is set to launch the eNaira on October the 1st. Let us take a closer look at the eNaira, what it means for you, and how you can position to take advantage of its launch.
What is 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.
What about inflation?
The street definition of inflation is too much cash chasing too few goods; however, not all inflation is this simple. Coins in Nigeria are scarce; thus, most merchants round up their prices to match with available currency, usually notes. This rounding up induces an artificial rise in prices because any cost-push does not cause the price hike but other factors, for example, selling eggs for N100 instead of N88. With the e-Naira, it becomes possible to transfer the exact cash price in the marketplace, especially in rural areas. This reduces the possibility of “round-up inflation.”
The e-Naira can be the ECOWAS currency
The e-Naira can be used by any two parties who can credit a Nigerian banking institution with corresponding currency. This means a trader banking with UBA in Burkina Faso can settle his import bills from the Gambia using e-Naira. This will be the next level of the rollout. The financial institutions and FINTECH start to build out an ecosystem with eNaira as the base product.
The e-Naira helps the financially excluded
The e-Naira will also bring in the vast majority of the unbanked Nigerians who have no bank account but have a phone into the formal financial economy. With the e-Naira, salary payments and payments for goods and services can be concluded. A plumber can accept payments on his phone, store them in his wallet, and make transactions with any vendor.
What are the risks?
Data security. The e-Naira is online, the BVN and NIN information is also online, the risk of malicious actors attempting to hack or gain access to the data is very low. The process of minting and burning eNaira tokens by the CBN has to be top-notch.
Overall, it’s a plus to the Nigerian economy, and it’s a positive progression towards a cashless society, with lower costs, and higher productivity.