The Central Bank of Nigeria has marked a year since it launched Africa’s first digital currency, the e-Naira. e-Naira expected leaders to boost the economy and fight inflation. But a year later, e-Naira has not lived up to expectations, critics say.
Government, business and central bank officials celebrated the one-year anniversary of e-Naira in Lagos on Tuesday.
During the event, officials praised the digital currency, saying more than 700,000 transactions worth $18.3 million have been made on its platform since its launch last October.
Officials also said e-Naira offers endless possibilities for Nigerians in the financial services sector. Central Bank Governor Godwin Emephile spoke during the event.
Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefil said, “As we speak today, some of the fears we had when we introduced digital currencies that were primarily focused on the risk of fraud and … “We have not witnessed anything,” he said. It is expected to assist, improve the availability and usability of central bank money, and facilitate diaspora remittances. [and] Reduce the cost of cash handling. ”
The e-Naira is Africa’s first central bank digital currency and the second globally after the Bahamas sand dollar.
Nigerian officials say the e-Naira, in theory, retains a higher value than the country’s real currency, which has lost up to 40% of its value over the past year.
On Monday, leading up to the anniversary, CBN held a street campaign to drive adoption among local tricycle riders in many cities, including the capital. Authorities offered a 5% discount to encourage passengers to subscribe.
Digital currency expert Messiah Ogbuag welcomed the campaign.
“What they are doing now feels like the right step in the right direction,” Ogbuagu said. Trust me. ”
But Kindness Udobong, chief executive of digital technology company Bitrrenc, said the authorities were moving too slowly.
“This kind of campaign should have been carried out at the beginning of the project,” said Udobong. Will he wait a year before starting a grassroots advocacy campaign?In fact, I expected e-Naira to become something of a household name by now. ”
The central bank aims to expand the e-Naira merchant base across Nigeria from around 4,000 to more than 7,000 in the coming weeks.
Ogbuag said the government needs to engage with private sector players if it wants widespread adoption of the currency.
“People still don’t understand how to recognize and use e-Naira,” says Ogbuagu. Give it to influencers and young people and you can get this message directly to people. achievable in 10 years. ”
Until then, awareness, education and access to the internet can still be challenges, critics say.