Nigeria to Partner with Bitt Inc for ‘eNaira’ Digital Currency, CBN assures e-Naira Will Be Protected from Cybersecurity Risks

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is set to partner with Bitt Inc, a global fintech company, as the technical support for its digital currency, eNaira. The CBN had earlier said it will launch the pilot scheme of eNaira by October 1, 2021.

Bitt is a Barbados-based startup that led the development of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union’s “DCash” — the first digital cash issued by a currency union central bank.

According to the apex bank governor, Godwin Emefiele, who disclosed the development in Abuja, on Monday, Nigeria will work with Bitt Inc as a technical partner in its bid to launch its own cryptocurrency, the “eNaira”.

Emefiele listed the benefits of the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) to include increased cross-border trade, accelerated financial inclusion, cheaper, and faster remittances. Easier targeted social interventions, as well as improvements in monetary policy effectiveness, payment systems efficiency, and tax collection.

CBN’s spokesperson, Osita Nwanisobi, while explaining the apex bank’s decision, said, the selection of Bitt Inc. from among highly competitive bidders was hinged on the company’s technological competence, efficiency, platform security, interoperability, and implementation experience.

“In choosing Bitt Inc, the CBN will rely on the company’s tested and proven digital currency experience, which is already in circulation in several Eastern Caribbean Countries,” the statement reads.

“Bitt Inc. was key to the development and successful launch of the central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) in April 202I.”

Nwanisobi said following the CBN’s decision to digitise the naira in 2017, Project Giant, as the Nigerian CBDC pilot is known, has been a long and thorough process for the apex bank.

According to the spokesperson, the CBN’s decision follows an unmistakable global trend in which over 85 percent of central banks are now considering adopting digital currencies in their countries.

He attributed the global adoption of digital currencies to the significant explosion in digital payments and the rise in the digital economy.

The Central Bank of Nigeria in a detailed presentation sent to Nigerian banks on the e-Naira project set a N50, 000 transaction limits for non-account holders.

The CBN in the report notes that the e-Naira project is a legal tender for the entire country adding that it will have non-interest-bearing CBDC status, a transaction limit for customers, and a value-based transaction limit.

The report notes that as a means to transact value, the e-Naira project wallet doesn’t compete with existing banks, but is awaiting the creation of wallets by banks and other innovators.

With the first tier, Speed Wallet can be used by anyone who does not have a bank account. However, e-Naira project users will have to submit a passport photo, a name, birth date and place, a phone number, and their address.

It would be recalled the apex bank had earlier directed banks to close accounts of persons or entities involved in cryptocurrency transactions.

It warned that cryptocurrencies pose the risk of loss of investments, money laundering, terrorism financing, illicit fund flows and other criminal activities.

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