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Buhari launches eNaira on Monday

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The digital currency, the eNaira, will be launched on Monday.

This is coming many months after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) barred banks and financial institutions from dealing in or facilitating transactions in cryptocurrencies.

The digital currency will be launched by the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari at State House, Abuja.

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele has said the eNaira would operate as a wallet against which customers can hold existing funds in their bank account.

“The eNaira therefore marks a major step forward in the evolution of money and the CBN is committed in ensuring that the eNaira, like the physical Naira, is accessible by everyone,” the bank said in a statement.

Nigeria has named Barbados-based Bitt Inc as a technical partner in developing the eNaira.

According to a statement from the CBN, “The launch of the eNaira is a culmination of several years of research work by the Central Bank of Nigeria in advancing the boundaries of payments system in order to make financial transactions easier and seamless for every strata(um) of the society.”

“Following series of engagements with relevant stakeholders including the banking community, fintech operators, merchants and indeed, a cross section of Nigerians, the CBN designed the digital currency, which shall be activated on Monday, October 25, 2021,” the statement continued.

The CBN explained that the launch of the new digital currency “marks a major step forward in the evolution of money and the CBN is committed to ensuring that the eNaira, like the physical Naira, is accessible by everyone.”

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Prompted by the ascendancy of the Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, the apex bank first mulled the eNaira idea in 2017, holding various consultations, presentations, and discussions concerning the prospects of the digital currency.

But the project went into a lull as the interests of decision-makers in the apex bank waned.

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It would seem that the CBN was jolted by the successful funding of the #EndSARS protests by youths who bypassed all blocked channels to use cryptocurrencies to sustain the campaign.

In February 2021, the apex bank announced that “dealing in cryptocurrencies or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchanges is prohibited.”

Institutions were told to “identify persons and/or entities” transacting with cryptocurrency or operating crypto exchanges.

The announcement prompted an outcry from many bitcoin users in Nigeria who took to social media in anger, seeking clarification on the bank’s order.

In response, the CBN provided a five-page statement that included a pledge to protect Nigerian citizens from the risks of cryptocurrencies.

It subsequently reactivated the project and fast-tracked its development leading to its unveiling in September 2021.

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