By Zayyad I. Muhammad
On October 25, 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari officially launched the much-awaited Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) digital currency, the eNaira. The launch of the eNaira is a good and commendable initiative. The CBN said, “As technology evolves and advances, it is critical that Central Banks also evolve to continue to play their roles and the Central Bank Money adapts to take advantage of these opportunities provided by new technologies. Today is one of those moments where new technology offers the Central Bank an enormous opportunity to play its role even better, thereby improving the society and economy of the nation.”
The CBN is right in taking advantage of new technologies. However, there is a problem – many ordinary Nigerians are not aware of the eNaira and its benefits. The CBN has done well in enlightening the already-informed segment of the society on the advantages of the eNaira. The CBN boasts that the eNaira is secured, tamper-proof, processes verifiable transactions, simple and reduces the cost of transactions. But the majority of the common people are not aware of the eNaira and its advantages. So the big question is: What are the innovative approaches through which the CBN can enhance the acceptance and usage of the eNaira and e-transactions, generally among common people in Nigeria?
First, the radio. Radio plays a vital role in enlightening people, especially in rural and peri-urban areas. It is a significant source of information and news. The CBN can take advantage of the radio to create awareness on the benefits of the eNaira. Secondly, telecommunication service providers, with over 80 million users in Nigeria, the GSM creates a platform for the CBN to reach nearly half of Nigeria’s population on the advantages of the eNaira.
The CBN can collaborate with the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHDSD) to create an e-wallet for all Federal Government social investment programme beneficiaries. Most of the beneficiaries are poor with prior low financial inclusion. The FMHDSD have ensured these people have bank accounts. Recently, through the Ministry, the Federal Government announced the launch of the Mobile Money Agent Programme and the commencement of training for 1,850 beneficiaries in Nigeria. These are viable means for the CBN to disseminate the advantages of the eNaira.
The CBN may collaborate with businesses that have daily interactions with common people. For example, collaboration with filling stations, market associations and transport unions to use eNaira in their transactions will help integrate more common people on the eNaira platform, as the people can use it with phones that are not internet-enabled. The eNaira should also be enhanced to allow banks to transfer it into a regular bank account automatically.
Bringing ordinary people on board will undoubtedly assist the CBN, and the government boosts the use and acceptance of the e-Naira. A columnist, Gimba Kakanda, wrote, “CBN needs to offer a layman’s explanation of the eNaira and break it down in various local languages to justify its usefulness, difference from cryptocurrency and what sets it apart from the electronic transactions Nigerians are used to.”
To bring millions of common Nigerians on the platform of the eNaira, the CBN should seek the help of experts in media, communication and public relations (PR) to develop programmes and models that will promote the acceptance of the eNaira.
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Abuja. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.