Nigeria’s central bank digital currency (CBDC), the eNaira, has gone live after an official launch by President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday. The launch took place at the State House in Abuja. An earlier plan to unveil the digital currency on October 1 was shelved.
Nigeria is one of the five countries in the world to develop an official digital currency as 14 other countries are at the pilot stages of launching theirs, according to the Atlantic Council’s CBDC tracker.
The eNaira was developed by fintech company Bitt, which is also behind the creation of CBDC in some East Caribbean countries.
At the launch, Monday, the Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Godwin Emefiele, said 500 million eNaira ($1.21 million) has already been minted.
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, has said 33 Nigerian banks have joined the eNaira platform and the apex bank has minted N500 million worth of digital currency.
Ememfiele said this at a ceremony to launch Nigeria’s Central Bank Digital Currency on Monday, at the presidential villa, noting that the platform has recorded an influx of users.
He said, ”33 banks are fully integrated and live on the platform, 500 million has been successfully minted by the Bank, N200 million has been issued to financial institutions, over 2,000 customers have been onboarded and over 120 merchants have successfully registered on the eNaira platform”.
The CBN Governor also explained that the eNaira and the physical Naira are the same legal tender and will have the same value which will be accepted anywhere in the country.
”As the tagline simply encapsulates, the eNaira is the same Naira with far more possibilities. The eNaira – like the physical Naira – is a legal tender in Nigeria and a liability of the CBN. The eNaira and Naira will have the same value and will always be exchanged at 1 naira to 1 eNaira,” he added.
Emefiele also added that since the eNaira platform went live, the website it receives over 2.5 million visits daily while pledging that “there would be strict adherence to the Anti-money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism standards to preserve the integrity and stability of Nigeria’s payment system.”
The CBDC’s digital currency app and its merchant wallet are now live and available for download. The two apps, eNaira speed wallet and eNaira merchant wallet, are now available on Google Playstore and Apple store.
A notice on the eNaira website gives details into how the currency and the wallet will work. “Get Ready With Your Accurate BVN Data For Your Hitch-Free Enrolment,” it says. “To sign-up on the eNaira speed wallet, you would be required to input the following details exactly as captured during your BVN enrollment. “First Name, Last Name, Date of Birth, State of Origin, and Email.
“Your Banks are waiting to assist you in validating and updating your BVN details to ensure seamless enrolment to the eNaira Platform,” it says.
The central bank has also published the regulatory guidelines of the currency on its website. “The guideline 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,” it says.