Barely two weeks after the launch of Africa’s first digital currency, the eNaira, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disclosed that the currency has successfully made 12,500 transactions worth N46.3 million. These numbers, according to the apex bank, is fueling renewed optimism.
According to a statement made by a senior official of the CBN to the Financial Times, nearly 400,000 new wallets were also registered across dozens of countries in nearly two weeks after the launch.
“The currency’s first week and a half was a resounding success, with roughly 400,000 new wallets registered in dozens of countries and 12,500 transactions worth 46.3 million naira ($113,000). This was despite users’ complaints about a time-consuming sign-up process.”CBN
This ray of optimism comes even as many Nigerians continue to remain sceptical about the currency due to widespread distrust of the government, amongst other things.
The Central Bank officially unveiled the digital currency on October 25, prompting many central banks around the world, like France, China, and Germany, to also consider the possibility of doing the same.
With the use of digital currencies likely to grow, the G7 group of industrialized nations has issued rules to guarantee that they “support and do no harm” to the existing monetary and financial system.
Nigeria’s central bank is certain that the digital currency will achieve its goals of cutting transaction costs, increasing cross-border flows, particularly inward remittances, and bringing more people into the financial system.
Happenings so far
The Nigerian Apex Bank initially proposed October 1 as the official unveiling date for the eNaira to commemorate the nation’s 61st Independence Day, but the launch was postponed.
Three weeks later, the Central Bank announced that President Muhammadu Buhari will launch the much-anticipated digital currency at State House Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari at a meeting
At the eNaira’s official launch last month, the Nigerian President said that the digital currency could boost the country’s gross domestic product by $29 billion over the next ten years.
The debut of the eNaira comes nine months after the central bank effectively banned cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, on the grounds that they posed a threat to the financial system and may have been used to fund terrorism.
Barely 72 hours after the app went live, the eNaira Speed wallet became unavailable on the Google Playstore amid bad reviews and signup issues.
The issue was quickly resolved, and the CBN affirmed that it would also allow Nigerians without access to internet-enabled phones to utilize the eNaira currency.
Bitt Inc, CBN’s technical partner, also revealed intentions to launch a new mobile application that will allow the unbanked to use eNaira.
“It is too early to discount the eNaira’s potential. It appears modest in the context of Nigeria’s scale, but I wouldn’t say it’s completely disappointing or surprising. It appears modest at this point, but I believe it is still early.”Ronak Gadhia, an analyst for emerging markets-focused investment bank EFG-Hermes.