Nigeria central bank digital currency (CBDC), the eNaira, has gone live after an official launch by President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday.
Buhari launched the eNaira at the State House in Nigeria’s capital Abuja after a previous plan to unveil the digital currency on October 1 was put on hold.
“We have become the first country in Africa and one of the first in the world to introduce a digital currency to our citizens,” Buhari said at the official launch.
Nigeria is one of the five countries in the world to develop an official digital currency. 14 other countries are at the pilot stages of launching theirs, according to the Atlantic Council’s CBDC tracker.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) engaged a Barbados-based digital financial technology firm, Bitt Inc, as a technical partner to develop the e-Naira.
With operations spreading across the Caribbean, Bitt utilises blockchain and distributed ledger technology to facilitate peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions with mobile money across a suite of Bitt’s Software and mobile applications.
Nigeria has so far launched two mobile applications – eNaira speed wallet and eNaira merchant wallet – on Google playstore and Apple store for the usage of digital currency.
CBN said the guidelines on how to navigate the applications “seeks to provide simplicity in the operation of eNaira, encourage general acceptability and use, promote low cost of transactions, drive financial inclusion while minimizing inherent risks of disintermediation of any negative impact on the financial system.”
CBN governor Godwin Emefiele in August listed the benefits of the e-Naira to include increased cross-border trade and accelerated financial inclusion.
At the launch on Monday, Emefiele, said 500 million eNaira ($1.21 million) has already been minted.