By Chinwendu Obienyi
Month after launching the digital currency eNaira, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) criticized commercial banks for its lack of adoption.
This was even as the apex bank revealed that it was set to conclude trials with MTN Nigeria to provide a channel where the unbanked can onboard using the code *997##.
Its Governor, Godwin Emefiele said this while answering questions from reporters during the 286th meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) held in Lagos on Tuesday. eNaira was launched to much fanfare in October 2021, becoming the first Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) on the African continent. However, the buzz around him has waned as surveys by Daily Sun last month indicated that only 756,000 people had created eNaira accounts out of the 55 million bank accounts operating in the country.
While stating that slow adoption by banks was the reason for the meager figure, Emefiele revealed that e-Naira is the product with the lowest cost in terms of electronic money transfer from one place to another.
“Nigeria is the second country in the world to have launched its digital currency CBDC called e-Naira and I can assure everyone that we are making tremendous progress there. But we will admit that there is a need for much more enlightenment for E-Naira and this will continue.
You can contact your bank, they may be a little reluctant towards you, because transferring their money from your account to your wallet is a disadvantage for banks. I mean so boldly and frankly that it’s a disadvantage for them,” he said.
Speaking further, the CBN Governor said, “So you should go and tell your bank that you want your e-Naira loaded on your wallet. It will cost you little or nothing compared to other products you have that will cost you money in the bank. Banks are apathetic because they know they are going to lose revenue and so you have to insist on using your wallet to transact.
Hence, as banks drag their feet on eNaira, Emefiele further disclosed that CBN is almost concluding trials with MTN Nigeria to provide a channel where unbanked people can onboard using the code * 997##.
According to him, “Once this is done, we will target the unbanked population and we will also use available agency banking arrangements and other means to ensure that we increase awareness of our eNaira product. Reacting, economic analysts said the CBN’s decision will allow people without bank accounts to operate USSD codes, which allow users without a smartphone or data/internet connection to use mobile banking, access eNaira with the aim of triggering a new wave of adoptions.