The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it will soon launch the much-awaited digital currency as the bank is almost completing all necessary steps to be taken and that before the end of the year the digital money will be available to Nigerians.
Director, Information Technology Department, Rakiy Mohammed, disclosed this on Thursday while, speaking at the end of 306th Bankers’ Committee Meeting.
She said the currency will be accessible to all Nigerians.
Admitting the risks associated with the proposed digital currency, the director assured that it will operate alongside other virtual currencies like the cryptocurrency.
She, however, cautioned that the CBN lacks control over other virtual or digital currencies as those transacting with such currencies are doing so strictly on personal basis.
“You are aware that we have two forms of fiat money in Nigeria. They are the notes and the coins and the third one is digital currency. Digital currency is not new in Nigeria and we are the third or sixth in the advancement of digital money in the world. This complements the cash and the coins that we have. The central bank digital currency will just be as good as having cash in your pocket.
“You are going to have the cash on your phone. Before the end of the year, the CBN will launch the pilot scheme.
“We are at about 60 percent in financial inclusion and at the rate we are going we may not be able to achieve the 80 percent inclusion target for this year but with digital currency, it will accelerate the ability to meet the target.
“It will enable innovation in payment system services. We are about to move to the state of a proof of concept. We will involve the banks in the execution of this noble idea.
“When launched, the digital currency will be accessible to everybody just the way the local currency is accessible to everyone today”.
She said it would support the cashless policy as well as innovation, adding that the central bank has a “very clear roadmap on this and we are about to move to the next stage of a proof of consent after which we would start a pilot.”
Also speaking at the media briefing, the Managing Director/CEO, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, said the central bank planned to introduce what he termed local card scheme.
According to him, the initiative would ensure that all card schemes are registered locally.
“The whole idea is that if the card schemes are registered locally, payment would terminate locally and it would enhance the efficiency of the local payment system. It will also minimise the amount of money that banks and other institutions pay when you use foreign cards and help conserve foreign currency.
“So, card schemes, local and international are advised to be registered locally. That way, the overall efficiency of the local payment system would be enhanced,” he said.