Nigeria’s Central Bank Targets 8 Million Users in CBDC Drive

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Crypto Regulation
Nigeria’s Central Bank Targets 8 Million Users in CBDC Drive

Nigeria is seeking to double the number of users of its digital currency before the end of the year by wooing more unbanked people. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) launched the e-Naira in October 2021, and it has been downloaded 840,000 times with a meager 270,000 active wallets to date.

CBN Targets 8 Million e-Naira Users

The banking regulator rescinded its directive last year after the initial decision to ban cryptocurrency in the most populous black nation. The launch of the government-controlled e-Naira signaled a shift by the regulator to accommodate digital currency in the country. 

The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, has reiterated the desire of the government to increase the adoption of its digital currency. Accordingly, the country’s digital asset adoption rate has not been encouraging. 

In a country of nearly 200 million people, it has attracted only 840,000 users since its launch last year. Moreover, there are 270,000 active wallets, of which 17,000 are merchant wallets, and more than 252,000 individual wallets.

However, the CBN was not deterred by the low patronage as it unveiled the second phase of the e-Naira expansion. According to Emefiele, the central bank has set a target of 8 million users in the second phase of the increase. The CBN further noted that transactions on the e-Naira platform had clocked NGR 4 billion since its launch.

Notwithstanding the relative success recorded so far, the regulator has kickstarted the second round of expansion in partnership with private sector players. The central bank governor disclosed that the second phase aims to drive financial inclusion by onboarding unbanked users.

As a result, expectations for the success of the second phase are huge because about 8 million more users are expected to be onboarded.

Nigeria’s Unbanked Population

As the largest economy in Africa, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of nearly $430 billion, Nigeria is home to one of the least banked people on the continent. According to official estimates, roughly 40% of the population is without bank accounts. 

This represents 59 million of the adult population in the country. Thus, the CBN is working towards addressing the gap. The introduction of central bank digital currency (CBDC) is regarded as the perfect solution to tackle the issue, given the rise in crypto adoption in the country. The regulator is seeking to onboard 8 million more people to begin using the e-Naira in the latest expansion round.

Furthermore, the expansion will begin later in the week, when both banked and unbanked citizens can open an e-Naira seamlessly. The central bank has simplified the process to make it easy with the touch of four-digit numbers on mobile devices.

The country became the second to introduce CBDC, following the Bahamas, after attempting to stifle the growth of cryptocurrencies by barring accounts from transacting in digital assets. However, the ban failed to achieve the desired effect as crypto adoption shot up before the CBN made a U-turn.

Ifeanyi Egede

Ifeanyi Egede is an experienced and versatile writer and researcher. He has keen interest in blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, NFTs, Web3, metaverse, fintech and emerging technologies. He has tons of published works both online and in the print media. He has close to a decade of writing experience. When he is not writing, he spends time with his lovely wife and kids.