Nigerian blockchain and cryptocurrency experts have suggested that many prospective users will only consider adopting the e-naira once the central bank has done enough to make the CBDC (central bank digital currency) an attractive option to use.
E-Naira Still Unattractive to Users
Some Nigerian experts have expressed doubts about claims by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that many residents in the country of more than 200 million inhabitants are interested in or switching to the recently launched central bank digital currency (CBDC), the e-naira.
The experts argue the e-naira, which was initially only available to Nigerians with bank accounts, lacks features that are found in privately issued cryptocurrencies. In addition, there is not enough information concerning the number of e-nairas in circulation. From the viewpoint of these experts, it is a lack of these attributes that makes widespread adoption of the CBDC an almost impossible goal to achieve.
Since launching the e-naira in late October, the CBN has routinely issued updates that suggest Nigerians are welcoming a digital currency which the government claims will add billions of dollars to the economy.
In addition, CBN officials like Ch’Edozie Okonjo have used public events to drum up support for a digital currency that is the first of its kind in Africa. For instance, in his address of an event that was organized by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria recently, Okonjo reportedly revealed that the CBN had recorded over 34,000 transactions valued at $450,000 (188 million naira) on the e-naira platform.
However, despite the enthusiastic support of the e-naira by central bank officials, some blockchain and cryptocurrency experts interviewed by Bitcoin.com News expressed doubts over claims that the CBDC is being widely adopted. The experts also point to the fact that the digital currency is only accessible to those with bank accounts.
CBN Must Explain Why Nigerians Need the CBDC
Others, like crypto expert and publisher Aniekan Fyneface, said authorities need to explain to Nigerians why they need an e-naira account when regular bank accounts can already achieve what the CBN is promising. Fyneface poses a number of questions that authorities must consider before encouraging Nigerians to adopt the CBDC. He asked:
Is the e-naira a digital payment currency? If it’s used for payment what are the incentives or advantages? The government need to make it attractive like offering discounts for those paying with the eNaira because I already have multiple Nigerian bank accounts and adding an e-naira to it, what do I stand to gain?
Fyneface added that unless serious consideration is given to some of these concerns, many Nigerians will not switch from privately issued cryptocurrencies to the e-naira as the CBN hopes.
Sharing a similar sentiment about the e-naira’s prospects is Nathaniel Luz, a Nigeria-based crypto product expert. In his written responses to questions sent by Bitcoin.com News, Luz says he agrees with the assertion that the CBN’s current crackdown on entities that facilitate P2P (peer-to-peer) transactions is intended to force Nigerians to switch to the e-naira.
Despite the CBN clampdown, which has forced crypto firms like Kurepay to consider relocating outside of Nigeria, Luz insisted that “at the end of the day, it’s up to users to make their decision.” He added that when given a choice, many Nigerians will “choose a censorship-free medium of exchange.”
The comments by the Nigerian experts quoted by Bitcoin.com News, as well as those that did not wish to be identified, suggest that the CBN still has a lot to do before it can genuinely expect the e-naira to achieve goals like reducing the number of adults that are financially excluded or lowering the cost of transactions.