CBN Partners Payment System Providers, Fintechs to Deepen eNaira Adoption

•Says apex bank not competing with banks

•Unveils digital financial inclusion programme for women, youths

James Emejo in Abuja and Olusegun Samuel in Yenagoa

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday said it was working with key stakeholders in the payment system ecosystem to boost the adoption of its digital currency known as the eNaira.

The stakeholders, particularly Payment Service Providers (PSPs) and a community of fintech groups, after a one-day engagement with the apex bank in Lagos, resolved to partner to ensure more adoption of the CBDC in the country.

Speaking at the meeting, the CBN Director, Information Technology Department (ITD), Mrs. Rakiya Mohammed, explained that the apex bank was neither competing with the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) nor other actors in the Nigerian payment system environment.

Essentially, the engagement was in continuation of the bank’s strategy to bring all stakeholders on board what Mohammed described as a journey.

She said the CBN remained open to suggestions and innovation aimed at adding value to the eNaira and improving the user experience.

The CBN director urged the payment service providers (including the large community of fintech groups) to find more innovative ways to support members of the public, where possible, in the onboarding process and use of eNaira as well as develop solutions for offline eNaira functions including cards, wearables, USSD, among others.

While also admonishing the licenced PSPs to create additional use cases for the eNaira, she tasked licenced PSPs to create additional products and services across the full spectrum of the financial system using eNaira.

Mohammed further disclosed that the full implementation of the eNaira, which started with the onboarding of the banked, would be done in four phases, culminating in offline eNaira payments solutions, cross-border payment and interoperability of the eNaira with those of other central banks.

However, their taking turns, representatives of the different stakeholder groups welcomed the introduction of the eNaira and expressed support for its adoption and use.

They also made value-added proposals for the market and integration process to drive financial inclusion by bridging the gap between the banked and the unbanked.

Also, going forward, the CBN team and the different stakeholder groups agreed to meet periodically to review the progress made to enable more Nigerians access eNaira.

On the CBN team were the Director, Banking Services Department, Samuel Okojere; Director, Payment System Management Depart, Musa Jimoh; Director, Risk Management, Dr. Blaise Ijebor; the Director, Financial Policy and Regulations Department, Mr. Chibuzor Efobi; and the Special Adviser to the CBN Governor on Payment Systems, Mary Fasheitan.

The different groups present at the engagement were from Payment Service Banks, Switching and Processing companies; Mobile Money Operators; Payment Solution Service Provider; Payment Terminal Service Providers; and Super Agents.

Also present were representatives of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN); the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS); Shared Agent Network Expansion Facilities (SANEF); and the Committee of banking Industry Heads.

CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had said the eNaira would support a resilient payment ecosystem, encourage rapid financial inclusion, reduce the cost of processing cash, enable direct and transparent welfare intervention to citizens and increase revenue and tax collection. Also, he had said the eNaira would facilitate diaspora remittances, reduce the cost of financial transactions, and improve the efficiency of payments.

Emefiele added, “Therefore, the eNaira is Nigeria’s CBDC and it is the digital equivalent of the physical naira. As the tagline simply encapsulates, the eNaira is the same naira with far more possibilities.”

Meanwhile, as part of efforts by the federal government to make sure every eligible Nigerian own a bank account and be financially included, the central bank yesterday commenced the digital inclusion drive for woman and youths in Bayelsa State.

Introducing the scheme in Kaima, Kolokuma/Opokuma local government area of the state, the state Governor, Senator Douye Diri, advised rural dwellers in the state that the only way they could benefit from various governments micro-credit and empowerment programmes and be financially included was by having valid bank accounts.

The governor who encouraged the rural dwellers in the state to take advantage of the CBN financial inclusion drive to open their bank accounts, noted that the present administration in the state has various financial and empowerments programmes, and others in partnership with the federal government, which can only be access through a bank account.

Diri, who was represented by a Permanent Secretary in the office of the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Anthony Orwells, said, “There are a number of empowerment programmes, a number of them the state government is in partnership with the CBN and other federal institutions while some of them are entirely by the state government.

“However, you will need a bank account to be financially included through a bank account, hence the need to encourage financial inclusion to ensure everyone including the rural dwellers benefits and is carried along in the scheme of things.”

In his speech, the Director, Development Finance Department of the CBN, Yusuf Yila, said the nation’s apex bank has discovered that most rural dwellers could not be captured for various empowerment initiatives because of bank accounts, which necessitated the financial inclusion drive.

Represented by the Head of Development Finance, CBN, Yenagoa branch, Mrs. Augustina Osuya, he explained that the financial inclusion drive was expected to, among other things, improve financial literacy and build awareness on the benefits of the use of digital financial services and contribute to increased access to payments, savings and credit enhancement opportunities for rural women and youth across the country leveraging digital platforms.

He pointed out that the scheme was aimed at empowering and bringing more women and youth across Nigeria into the finance ecosystem in line with the CBN digital financial inclusion project.

While calling on the rural women and youths to grab the opportunity to open their bank accounts, he urged financial institutions to join and take the exercise seriously to bring all financially excluded on board.

In her remark, the Woman Leader of Kaiama Mrs Tonbra Egbegi, commended the CBN for bringing the initiative to their doorsteps and saying that the drive will give the rural women and youth the opportunity to open their bank accounts conveniently without having to travel to the state capital.

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