The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will launch an upgrade for the eNaira next week, according to reports gathered by OnlinePikin. The upgrade will allow the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) to be used in a broader range of goods and services, including bill payments.
This was confirmed by CBN’s branch controller, Bariboloka Koyor, at a campaign organized to promote the use of eNaira among businesses in Lagos.
“Starting next week, there is going to be an upgrade on the eNaira speed wallet app that will allow you do transactions such as paying for DSTV or electric bills or even paying for flight tickets. Also, the USSD code *997# is out and it is just for more people to be aware of it and begin to use it.”
– Bariboloka Koyor
Koyor said the expansion would be launched to make onboarding easier for Nigerians. He reiterated that the eNaira wallet had no charges and was faster than internet banking. He stated the need for early adoption because, in the future, the eNaira will be the only way to receive financial assistance from the government.
“This is a project that the CBN has rolled out to reach every Nigerian in terms of financial inclusion and in terms of efficiency, reliability, and safety of banking transactions so that we can do banking transactions very easily and safely and the people in Nigeria can enjoy the benefit of the eNaira,” Koyor says.
The eNaira upgrade is said to be part of a wider effort to make the Nigerian CBDC more viable and popular in the country against the cold reaction it has gotten from Nigerians since its launch last year. It will include “sensitisation campaigns in major markets across the country.”
The eNaira was launched in October 2021 as a digital asset to facilitate financial inclusion and enable direct welfare disbursements to Nigerians.
According to the CBN, it was put in place to reduce the cost of cash processing, improve the efficiency of cross-border payments and increase revenue and tax collection.
The Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele, believes the adoption rate of eNaira has been excellent. He said in December 2021:
“So far, we have recorded over 583,000 consumer wallets and about 83,000 merchant wallets downloads, with downloads occurring in over 160 countries (per Google Play Store and Apple Store data). We have also recorded over 34,000 transactions amounting to over 188 million naira.”
There are reports indicating the number has gone up. Koyor explained that the digital currency has a projection of 10,000 downloads in the second quarter, having recorded 7,300 in the first quarter.
Koyor tries to alleviate the fear of people who have trust issues with digital platforms so the set target is met.
We give you the assurance that it is very secure and that you can do business without receiving counterfeit currency. It is designed in Nigeria and can be received anywhere in the world.
In April, Miriam Olusanya, managing director of GTBank, said downloads on the eNaira had grown to 756,000. The eNaira has seen 165,000 consumer wallets and 2800 merchant wallets.
However, the government-backed digital asset will struggle to reach the heights it is aiming for, as limited knowledge of digital currency operations is still a problem. And, if financial inclusion is the ultimate goal, the CBN may want to improve on its drive to make more people understand what the eNaira is about.
The eNaira app has a 2.8 review rating on the App Store, a 3.6 review rating on the Google play store and a cursory look at users’ feedback points to dissatisfaction from their end.