eNaira: New strategies for mass adoption needed – Experts

Enaira: new strategies for mass adoption needed - expertsFinancial experts have urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to come up with new strategies to sensitise the masses on benefits of adopting Central Bank Digital Currency, eNaira.

The experts said in separate interviews that a lot needed to be done to encourage the financially-excluded to adopt the eNaira, which was still recording very low patronage.

Uche Uwaleke, Professor of Finance and Capital Market, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, said, “the CBN has been sensitising the people on the benefits of adopting the eNaira.

“But being a relatively new payment system, more effort and new strategies for mass sensitisation need to be made.

“This should include the use of social media, radio, TV as well as campaigns taken to markets and educational institutions.

“The government can help to promote the adoption of eNaira by encouraging the payment of taxes using eNaira. Persons willing to do so can be incentivised through a tax credit system that enables them to recover a percentage of tax paid using the eNaira platform.

“Also, the government can request Ministries, Departments and Agencies to pay workers a proportion of their salaries using the eNaira as a way of compelling its wide adoption.’’

Hassan Oaikhenan, Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, University of Benin, Benin-City, also spoke in the same vein.

“It is my considered opinion that economic agents have not been adequately sensitised on the modalities of the digital currency.

“There is, accordingly, a very low level of awareness, making it imperative for the Central Bank, being the issuing authority, to carry out a wide scale and sustained sensitisation programme,’’ he said.

Oaikhenan added that the low level of awareness and understanding of the modus operandi of the digital currency had largely been compounded by the low level of confidence in the digital currency.

He said, therefore, that overcoming these challenges would require the Apex Bank to aggressively campaign and sensitise the public on the benefits inherent in the use of the enaira.

The Chief Executive Officer, BIC Consultancy Services, Dr Boniface Chizea, said that Nigerians are not prepared for digital currency which was the reason for its very low adoption.

“I think the Central Bank jumped into this when nobody was prepared for it. I suppose this happened because CBN wanted to avoid the accusation of late start and also to fight the pressure for the adoption of Cryptocurrency.

“You recall that so much pressure was piled on CBN to recognise the digital currency. It will be recalled then that the Bank issued a disclaimer as it cautioned patrons that they are on their own.

“Nigeria was the second country in the world to issue its digital currency following one other country in the Caribbean.

“So, we were simply not prepared or ready for digital currency and not Nigeria alone, but probably the rest of the world. Have you heard much about digital currency in other parts of the world?

“Therefore, I will not worry so much about what progress we have made so far as this is an idea which we hope will surely come in the future,’’Chizea said.

BRANDPOWER recalls that the CBN inaugurated the CBDC, also known as the eNaira, on Oct. 25, 2021, aimed at making financial transactions easier and seamless for every strata of the society.

It was to intended to increase cross-border transactions, facilitate diaspora remittances and complement existing payment systems.

But adoption has been low, so far less than 0.5 per cent of Nigerians are using it a year after it was launched.

Since October 2022, the number of e-Naira wallets has reportedly increased more than 12-fold to 13 million.

Following the currency crisis earlier in the year, there has also been a 63 per cent increase to N22 billion (US$48 million) in the value of transactions so far in 2023.