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eNaira: Our goal is to achieve 100% cashless economy, says Emefiele

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says it is making efforts to ensure that Nigeria operates a 100 percent cashless economy.

Godwin Emefiele, governor, CBN, said this at the first anniversary of the eNaira launch in Lagos on Tuesday.

President Muhammadu Buhari formally launched the digital currency at the state house in Abuja on October 25, 2021.

Th eNaira and its underlying technology, called blockchain, was projected to increase Nigeria’s GDP by $29 billion over the next 10 years.

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Buhari had said it would help move people and businesses from the informal into the formal sector, thereby increasing the tax base of the country.

But more importantly, the virtual currency was launched as a tool to further drive CBN’s cashless policy and on the grounds that “the use of physical cash in conducting business and making payments has been on the decline”.

Speaking at the anniversary, Emefiele said Nigeria must move from a cash economy to a predominantly cashless one.

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“The destination as far as I am concerned is to achieve a 100 percent cashless economy in Nigeria,” he said.

“I know that those who doubt us will say that 100 percent cashless is unattainable. Yes, it is true! But, Nigeria must move from being a predominantly cash economy to a predominantly cashless economy.

“At this time, I can say from what I have read from online banking to introducing the POS to ATMs, to mobile banking, working and collaborating with the ministry of education, I want to say that we have provided all the necessary infrastructure that should enable us to make cashless a nationwide journey.

“It is not something that some of us will like, but we would in the coming weeks and months make pronouncements that must make cashless go nationwide.

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“I believe part of those pronouncements will begin from tomorrow and there will be some breaking news tomorrow about it.

“Even the bankers committee will hold a special bankers committee meeting tomorrow to deliberate further on this, so let’s expect the news.”

Emefiele further said the eNaira was another product added for Nigerians to embrace a cashless economy and has had its first year of operation, recording over eight billion transactions.

He also said the apex bank would continue to refine, fine-tune and upgrade the eNaira as it was a journey of possibilities and not a one-off event.

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The CBN governor said Nigerians should expect to see additional functionalities in the coming months.

“The additional functionalities include onboarding of revenue collection agencies to increase and simplify collections,” he added.

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“Collaborating with the ministry of humanitarian affairs through the creation of sector-specific tokens to support the federal government’s social programmes and distribution of targeted welfare schemes in a bid to lift millions out of poverty by 2025.”

Emefiele further pledged that the apex bank would continue to act decisively to encourage innovation, while at the same time, protecting the interests of consumers and other stakeholders.

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On his part, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos, congratulated Emefiele for the courage to introduce the initiative and the success it had recorded in the last year to further deepen the policy of inclusion in the financial ecosystem.

Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by Rabiu Olowo, commissioner of finance, Lagos state, urged CBN to build trust with the people for the product.

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“The need to engender the trust of the people in this product cannot be overemphasised,” he said.

“That’s why financial literacy, advocacy, education campaign is very important as we move on, to get this product ready for its versatility, where it can be quickly and easily deployed to give out stimulus checks to the lowest income groups who need government handouts and intervention the most, especially during recession or during significant situation like the one we experienced during COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is the epitome of the influence that this innovation can have on inclusive growth and development of a nation.”

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