The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) continues to push forward with the e-Naira digital currency, undeterred by its disappointingly low adoption rate, as reported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Despite claims by the CBN that over 20 million Nigerians have embraced the e-Naira initiative, public awareness, and usage appear to contradict these assertions.
CBN Takes e-Naira Campaign to University of Jos
To promote the use of e-Naira wallets for seamless and cost-effective transactions, the CBN brought its campaign to the University of Jos.
The CBN Jos Branch Controller, Esther Tinat, emphasized the simplicity of the e-Naira and urged the university’s management, staff, and students to embrace digital currency for various transactions, including payment of school fees.
Paying Fees and Embracing the e-Naira
CBN’s e-Naira consultant, Izuchukwu Nwankpa, stated that over 20 million individuals have already adopted the e-Naira initiative. According to Joseph Agai of Zenith Bank, the e-Naira aims to enhance the payment system, particularly for small transactions.
“The e-Naira is designed to facilitate small transactions, you can attest to the challenges we had when everybody tried to do small transactions using the electronic platforms which are designed for high-level transactions.
The e-Naira is very seamless to use, students are very important stakeholders in this project, they are more receptive to technology and they embrace the opportunities it provides for them to do a lot of things.
The e-Naira is designed to be user-friendly, and its implementation offers numerous opportunities, particularly for students who are more receptive to technology.
CBN Faces Scrutiny and Calls for Improvement
While the CBN is eager to implement the e-Naira, some university officials, including the Vice-Chancellor, expressed concerns about unresolved issues in the banking sector and called for improved technology to ensure a seamless payment process.
IMF Report Highlights Challenges
In a recent report titled “Nigeria’s eNaira, One Year After,” the IMF attributes the slow adoption of the e-Naira to the phased approach chosen by the CBN and its inability to enforce usage.
The report highlights that public adoption has been disappointingly low, citing limited acceptance and availability of alternative payment methods as contributing factors.
According to the IMF, approximately 98.5 percent of downloaded eNaira wallets have remained unused since their introduction.
The IMF’s report highlights the sluggish adoption of the Central Bank Digital Currency project, with limited usage by both households and merchants.
The report states, “After an initial surge in retail wallet downloads, the numbers gradually declined. It took 25 days to reach 500,000 downloads, but an additional 63 days to reach 600,000, and another 143 days to reach 700,000.”
“As of end-November 2021, there were approximately 860,000 retail eNaira wallets, accounting for only 0.8 percent of Nigeria’s active bank accounts.”
“In comparison, merchant wallet downloads reached about 100,000 by the end of June, which represents only a fraction of the number of merchants with Point-of-Sales (POS) terminals.”
The report further reveals the underutilization of downloaded wallets and emphasizes the challenges faced in driving widespread adoption.
Although the current adoption rates suggest a slow start for the e-Naira, it is still too early to determine the fate of the overall project.
The IMF report emphasizes that the phased approach and limited benefits for wallet holders have hindered widespread acceptance.
However, the CBN remains committed to the e-Naira initiative, aiming to address these challenges and improve its functionality and appeal to users.