Barring unforeseen circumstances, digital currency will be launched in Nigeria before December this year.
The Director of Information Technology of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mrs. Rakiya Mohammed made the disclosure in Abuja on Thursday.
The decision was one of the resolutions reached at the end of the Bankers’ Committee meeting. At the event, the apex bank further assured of sufficient foreign exchange supply to meet all legitimate transactions through the Deposit Money Banks.
According to her, “Officials of the CBN have been exploring digital currency technology for over two years. There are two types of currency, the notes and coins. The CBN digital currency will be a third type of currency. It will supplement the cash. Rather than carry cash about, you have the money in your phone.”
She added that most recent EFInA Report indicated that the nation was at about 60 per cent in financial inclusion and that with a target of 80 per cent at the end of the year, steps needed to be taken to raise the percentage of the nation’s Financial Inclusion.
Mohammed argued that the proposed CBN digital currency would enhance the inclusion drive and reduce the cost of cash management, while enabling innovations in the nation’s financial market.
She said that a Central Governance Structure would be set up to address all associated risks with a view to ensuring that the Nigerian public got the best technology for the digital currency which would be launched before the end of the year.
Speaking on the banking industry’s readiness to assist the SMEs, Mr. Patrick Akinwuntan of Ecobank, said that the banks and the CBN would work more closely to assist the sub-sector in other to accelerate jobs and wealth creation, especially, in the post-COVID era in all regions of the country.
In her remarks, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe of Fidelity Bank said that the CBN assured the Bankers’ Committee of its readiness to provide sufficient foreign exchange for all those who had genuine need of them through the banks.
She said, “Summer is a pressure period for forex, as people will be demanding forex for BTA, PTA, medical bills, school fees and other transactions.
“The CBN says it will make enough forex available, that we should make the information available on all our platforms and that we should not turn anyone back on account of non-availability of forex. We were asked to come back to the CBN to request more if we exhaust our stocks.
“Banks have also been encouraged to provide forex to Small and Medium Enterprises that require the importation of their machinery and equipment.”
On his part, the Managing Director of Sterling Bank, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, said “CBN has provided sufficient FX for genuine Nigerian travelers and to do legitimate businesses so there is no need to go to any alternative market.”