Some Financial Experts have urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to take cognizance of the impact its proposed digital currency (eNaira) might have on the country’s financial sector.
The experts spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja, against the backdrop of CBN’s proposed launch of eNaira on Oct. 1.
A Financial Expert, Mr Okechukwu Unegbu, urged the apex bank to be a bit more cautious about its proposed October 1 launch of eNaira.
Unegbu, a past president of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) said that the CBN needed to have engaged more with stakeholders to ensure that the financial sector does not suffer unforeseen consequences after the digital currency is introduced.
He advised the CBN to ensure that the eNaira does not impact negatively Deposit Money Banks (DMBs)
“eNaira is another form of cryptocurrency, which the CBN has banned, and it seems that the apex bank is trying to imitate what it banned.
“The CBN needed to have done very thorough research and engage stakeholders in the CIBN, ICAN and other relevant professional bodies, and also create sensitization on the currency.
“I learnt that the eNaira cannot be used for bank transfers; that will be detrimental to the DMBs.
“If you bring out a product which people cannot understand they will not be able to use it,’’ he said.
An Economist, Mr Tope Fasua, described the idea of eNaira as a welcome development.
Fasua, who is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Global Analytics Consulting Limited, said that the idea of eNaira was commendable because all currencies would eventually become digital over time, saying the Naira should not be left behind.
He noted that by creating the digital Naira, the apex bank was ensuring that it was not rendered irrelevant in the foreseeable future.
“In actual fact, the Naira is already digital as it is because you can send money through Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) or through electronic transfer without the need to touch cash.
“But with the eNaira, digitalisation is going to a higher level, where we will increase focus on electronic financial transactions, which will come with its own type of innovations and improvements.
“But only those who get on board will benefit from the advantages of the digital currency,’’ he said.
According to the economist, electronic currencies, like the eNaira, allows central banks to print and manage less physical currencies, thereby saving huge revenue.
“It will benefit the Nigerian economy by saving huge cost of managing physical cash, and including more Nigerian in the financial sector.
“It will promote financial inclusion, as those who do not have bank accounts can easily key into the eNaira.
“It will also, eventually, help in tracking money laundering and fraud because it is all about documentation of what people are doing.
“The data that will be generated will enable authorities do their work better in preventing money laundering and fraud,’’ he said.
NAN reports that the apex bank had announced plans to float its own controlled digital currency after announcing a ban on cryptocurrency transactions in February.
CBN’s Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, had explained that cryptocurrency promotes the risk of loss of investments, money laundering, terrorism financing, illicit fund flows and other criminal activities.
The apex bank, in a new website designed for the digital currency, described eNaira as a CBN-issued digital currency that provides a unique form of money denominated in Naira.
It stated that eNaira would serve as both a medium of exchange and a store of value, offering better payment prospects in retail transactions when compared to cash payments.
“eNaira has an exclusive operational structure that is both remarkable and nothing like other forms of central bank money,” CBN noted.
Meanwhile, the CBN, on Monday, launched a dedicated website, enaira.com, for the digital currency project.
Findings show that the website recorded over one million hits a few hours after it was launched, an indication that most Nigerians are Interested in the proposed digital currency.