The Nigerian Central bank has Outlined key center regions for its national payments system in a two-year Roadmap paving the way to 2025.
Nigeria’s Central bank will explore the potential of Stablecoins, the adoption of blockchain technology to drive a Central bank digital currency (CBDC) and regulatory considerations related to initial coin offerings (ICOs) throughout the following two years.
These are the key takeaways of a strategy document named Nigeria Payments System Vision 2025, distributed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The 83-page document touches on various implications for its current payments landscape, with blockchain-based systems coming to the front.
The document delves into the implications of blockchain-based CBDCs, outlining 11 potential advantages of such an offering, including cash cost management, combating counterfeit currency, clear perceptibility, logistical improvements and payment effectiveness.
Nigeria’s central bank believes monetary policy can be improved by the monitoring and adjustability of a CBDC, allowing for better control over the currency’s value. The Bank also takes note of that it could all the more likely monitor and control tax avoidance, money laundering and other criminal operations through a CBDC.
Lastly, the CBN touts improved financial inclusion and economic development, prodding innovation and efficiency by supporting competition between existing financial establishments’ retail payments products. A three to five-year time span is achievable to roll out a CBDC arrangement in Nigeria, they said.
Stablecoins are also on the radar in Nigeria as fiat-backed digital currencies gain popularity in various countries around the world. The CBN refers to a need to foster a regulatory framework to execute Stablecoin offerings in Nigeria.
The CBN has a cautious view of ICOs, highlighting “little appetite” to adopt existing ICOs given their “lack of regulation.” Regardless of this, the CBN recognizes the job of ICOs as an asset class and considers potential in adopting ICOs to be a novel way to deal with fundraising for capital projects, peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding.
Smart contract functionality is one more focal point highlighted in the policy document. The CBN specifies the “substantial advantages” of connecting settlement to the exchange of possession through smart contracts and the exchange of responsibility for securities or completing commercial trade transactions.
The country has been directing its CBDC, the eNaira, since October 2021, yet the project has battled to gain foothold among residents. A Bloomberg report in October 2022 said the use of eNaira is at only 0.5% of the country’s population. In the mean time, Nigerians are becoming progressively interested in cryptocurrencies, with Google scan data in mid-2022 highlighting the appetite for Crypto in the country.
Adesoji Solanke, fintech and banks director at Renaissance Capital, to unload the appetite for cryptocurrency trading in Nigeria and the reported lack of adoption of the government provided eNaira.
Solanke had the same sentiments, highlighting that Nigerians have not shown a lot of interest in the eNaira, regardless of local banks marketing it to their customers.
“There’s been no mass adoption of the eNaira in the country at this time on the consumer or merchant sides of the payments equation.”
Solanke said that the growing adoption of cryptocurrencies is driven by their cross-border functionality and the capital gain speculative choice they provide. Weighing up whether the eNaira could become ubiquitous in Nigeria is a more complex consideration, according to Solanke.
Right off the bat more consumers would have to download and fund the wallet. The eNaira wallet ought to provide multiple and better use cases that allure than customers, merchants and different members in the financial system. Merchants need a payment arrangement connected to the eNaira and controlled by contactless gadgets that can peruse the wallet through smartphones, QR codes, or USSD codes.
Solanke also believes that there should be more explicit motivations for every sector to adopt eNaira. Motivators, for example, zero or low peer-to-peer or merchant transaction fees and functionality that rises above immediate financial services could support adoption.
Stablecoins are another complex topic given the potential risk of their increased use “debilitating the adequacy of monetary policy,” Solanke said. It’s one explanation CBDCs could be a significant subject in economic development in the medium term and why central banks might seek create regulatory lucidity for stablecoins.
The potential adoption and regulation of ICOs would also require the CBN and the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission to work together, considering that they would potentially be treated as securities or a new asset class.
Nigeria’s Central Bank took a harsh position toward the cryptocurrency sector in 2021, successfully forbidding local banks from overhauling cryptocurrency exchanges. Nearly year and a half later, thunderings of a policy inversion were reported by local media as a potential revision to existing regulations that would recognize cryptocurrency as capital for investment.
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