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CBN accuses banks of impeding growth of eNaira over concerns on loss of business

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele has accused commercial lenders of putting up roadblocks against the use of the country’s digital currency, eNaira because of their concern about loss of revenue from traditional banking services.

Emefiele, who spoke after the July Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in Abuja, revealed that only around 700,000 customers made an e-Naira wallet since they were debuted last year compared with around 55 million bank accounts in the country.

On the whole, e-Naira transactions are still unpopular in the country, even though they do not incur a charge, unlike transfers or payments done through a bank’s platform or website.

The report noted that e-Naira wallet deposits don’t count as cash in the lender’s books.

Emefiele said there was “apathy” at the banks, as banks feel that the e-Naira cuts down on banks’ work with mobile banking services to add more revenue.

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The regulatory bank chief said the central bank was almost done with tests with MTN Group’s Nigeria unit to make a channel to allow Nigerians without bank accounts to open e-Naira wallets.

Last August, the CBN created its digital currency, tagged e-Naira, the currency would have a legal tender and non-interest-bearing asset status

There were five stages initially identified as part of the rollout, including one for “issuing, distribution, redemption, as well the destruction of the currency.” The second had to do with letting financial institutions request currency, and the third would see the government processing digital payments made in retail.

The fourth stage saw businesses looking into low-cost software for dealing with the coin, and the last stage had to do with the “architecture” of the currency, which would give more attention to advancements for privacy and security.

It also came as the CBN had received backlash from the public just a few months before the announcement, as it had banned cryptocurrency transactions in February 2021 citing their “unregulated and unlicensed” status.

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