Buhari to Unveil CBN’s eNaira on Monday

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President Muhammadu Buhari will on Monday formally launch the Nigerian Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), known as the eNaira at the State House, Abuja.

The unveiling of the much-anticipated electronic money had been delayed partly to allow for the country’s 61st independence celebration, according to the CBN.

A statement from CBN’s Director, Corporate Communications, Nwanisobi, noted that the launch of the eNaira is a culmination of several years of research work by the central bank in advancing the boundaries of the payments system to make financial transactions easier and seamless for every strata of the society.

The apex bank had designed the digital currency, following a series of engagements with relevant stakeholders including the banking community, fintech operators, merchants, and indeed, a cross-section of Nigerians.

According to the bank, the eNaira marks a major step forward in the evolution of money as well as the CBN’s commitment to ensuring that the digital currency, like the physical Naira, is accessible by everyone.

Nwanisobi, stated that given that the eNaira is a journey, the unveiling marks the first step in that journey, which will continue with a series of further modifications, capabilities, and enhancements to the platforms.

He said, “The CBN will continue to work with relevant partners to ensure a seamless process that will benefit every user, particularly those in the rural areas and the unbanked population.

“Since the eNaira is a new product, and amongst the first CBDCs in the world, we have put a structure to promptly address any issue that might arise from the pilot implementation of the eNaira.

“Accordingly, following Monday’s formal launch by the president, the bank will further engage various stakeholders as we enter a new age consistent with global financial advancement.”

According to him, the theme of the eNaira is: “Same Naira, more possibilities”.

Meanwhile, the CBDC is expected to improve monetary policy effectiveness and enhance the government’s capacity to deploy targeted social interventions, and boost remittances through formal channels.

The bank explained that eNaira wallet is required to access, use and hold eNaira.

The CBN also tasked the deposit money banks (DMBs) to facilitate prompt placement of restrictions on eNaira wallets in the event of a valid report of loss, theft of device or compromise, a hack of a user eNaira wallet.

According to the Regulatory Guidelines on the eNaira, obtained by THISDAY, the apex bank, further directed banks to ensure that customers can report via USSD channels, internet banking platforms, customer care phone lines, and in-branch customer care where there is any compromise in the eNaira transactions.

The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had said that in unveiling the digital money, the bank does not downplay potential risks, adding however that the apex financial regulatory body had put in place appropriate mitigation mechanisms for safer operation.

He said, “We are not going to pretend that there are no risks in opening your system up. We will look at the various products, determine the risks, determine the best way to mitigate the risks before opening it up.

“But it is a journey that we are determined and decided that we will start on October 2021.”

The planned unveiling of the much-awaited Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), known as the eNaira, originally slated for October 1, 2021, was put on hold due to other key activities lined up to commemorate the country’s 61st independence anniversary.

However, the CBN, in the framework for the operation of the eNaira further set the transaction and balance limits for individual and merchant eNaira wallets.

In the Tier 0 category or phone number without verified National Identity Number (NIN), the daily transaction is limited to N20,000 with a balance or eWallet limit set at N120,000.

For the Tier 1 category with verified National Identity Number (NIN), the daily transaction limit is set at N50,000 with an N300,000 balance.

However, those in the Tier 2 category will be able to do transactions up to N200,000 daily with an eWallet balance of N500,000, while Tier 3 will have daily transactions of N1 million with balances of N5 million.

However, merchants, or duly accredited individuals and non-individual (corporates) authorised to conduct business in Nigeria will have no limits on eNaira transactions.

The CBN also stated that under the digital currency framework, Financial Institutions (FIs) shall render returns to the bank in line with the provisions of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 2020 and as may be specified from time to time.

The guidelines, among other things, said FIs shall put in place appropriate measures to ensure sound risk management practices to address potential threats to their operations.

These include an enterprise risk management framework; Appropriate governance structures; Documented and approved policies; and Secured information technology infrastructure.

It said, “Financial Institutions shall be required to implement additional risk management measures as may be prescribed by CBN guidelines from time to time.”

The guidelines stipulated the role and responsibilities of the different stakeholders particularly concerning ensuring the prevention or minimisation of loss following a loss, theft of a user’s device or compromise, hack of user eNaira wallet.

 James Emejo in Abuja

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