Nigeria: CBN Announces USSD Code for eNaira Transactions, As Subscription Hits 840,000

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has unveiled a new short code for subscribers of its digital currency, eNaira to make financial transactions on the platform. The aim is to enhance its acceptability with a focus on deepeningpayment system.

“I’m pleased and indeed delighted to inform you all today that by next week, Nigerians both banked and unbanked will be able to open an eNaira wallet and conduct transactions by simply dialing *997# from their mobile phones,”CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele said yesterday at the grand finale of the eNaira Hackathon in Abuja.

The CBN governor also announced that between October 2021 when it was launched and now, the eNaira has reached 840,000 downloads, with about 270,000 active wallets comprising over 252,000 consumer wallets and 17,000 merchant wallets. The volume and value of transactions on the platform have been remarkable, reaching above 200,000 and N4 billion, respectively.

The eNaira is expected to enhance financial inclusion, support poverty reduction, enable direct welfare disbursement to citizens, support a resilient payments ecosystem, improve availability and usability of central bank money, facilitate diaspora remittances, reduce the cost of processing cash, and reduce cost and improve efficiency of cross-border payment among others.

The CBN sets a self-imposed target of 8,000,000 active users based on estimations using the diffusion of innovation model.

Mr Emefiele said the Hackathon event was a forward leap in the implementation of eNaira to ensure all Nigerians receive the full benefits of a Central bank Digital Currency (CBDC).

CBN’s Deputy Governor in charge of economic policy Dr Kingsley Obiora said the use of cash as a means of payment is fast declining, a reason he the minting of currency by the central bank has been reducing over the years. “We have seen the value of e-business increase,” he said, adding that central banks across the world have decided to step on the plate and respond to the yearning of digital payment system.

Dr Obiora who said a lot of central banks have been coming to understudy Nigeria’s model of the digital currency said, “this is the way the world is going. If you don’t jump into the train, it will leave you.”

Group head of African Fintech Foundry Daniel Awe said Nigeria’s central bank has transformed from a traditional regulator to a smart and innovative regulator. “It has moved a lot step further,” he said.

Mr Awe charged the top 10 winners of the hackathon competition to take their new roles as an opportunity to make impact. “By this time next year, we will want to see the impact you have made in terms of employment creation, impact in the eNaira and the digital financial system,” Awe told them.

From an initial cohort of over 105 groups that made the quarter finals and 75 teams that progressed to the semi-finals, the Hackathon reached its climax yesterday with 20 teams in the finals from which the top 10 teams emerged as prize winners.

Emefiele said the second phase of the digital project has begun and it is intended to drive financial inclusion by onboarding unbanked and underserved users leveraging offline channels.

The project adopted a phased- approach with the first phase focusing on banked users, while the policy objective of the second phase borders around financial inclusion.

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