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Commercial banks stifling growth of CBDCs –CBN – VELOXNEWS


By Chinwendu Obienyi

Months after launching the eNaira digital currency, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has criticised commercial banks over its lack of adoption.

This was even as the apex bank revealed that it is almost concluding tests with MTN Nigeria to provide a channel where the unbanked can onboard using the code *997##.

Its Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said this while fielding questions from newsmen during the 286th meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) which held in Lagos on Tuesday. The eNaira was launched with great fanfare in October 2021, becoming the first central bank digital currency (CBDC) on the African continent. However, the buzz around it declined as investigations done by Daily Sun last month indicated that only 756,000 individuals created eNaira accounts out of the 55 million bank accounts operating in the country. 

Whilst stating the slow pace of adoption by banks was the reason behind the lean figure, Emefiele revealed that the e-Naira is the product that has the lowest cost in terms of moving money electronically from one location to another location.

“Nigeria is the second country in the world that launched its digital currency, the CBDC called the e-Naira and I can assure everyone that we are making tremendous progress there. But we will admit that there is a need for a lot more enlightenment for E-Naira and that will continue to go on.

You may go to your bank, they may be a little bit resistant to you because moving their money from your account into your wallet is a disadvantage to the banks. I want to say so boldly and bluntly that it is a disadvantage to them”, he said.

Speaking further, the CBN Governor said, “So you should go and tell your bank that you want your e-Naira to be loaded onto your wallet. It will cost you little or nothing compared to those other products that you have that will cost you money in the bank.  There is apathy by the banks because they know they will lose some income and so you should insist on using your wallet to do your transactions.

Hence, with the banks dragging their feet over the eNaira, Emefiele further revealed that the CBN is almost concluding tests with MTN Nigeria to provide a channel where the unbanked can onboard using the code *997##.

According to him, “once this is done, we are going to be targeting the unbanked population and we are also going to be using agency banking arrangements available and other means to ensure that we increase the awareness of our eNaira product. Reacting, economic analysts said the move by the CBN will allow people without bank accounts to leverage USSD codes, which allow users without a smartphone or data/internet connection to use mobile banking, to access the eNaira in a bid to trigger a renewed wave of adoptions.

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