According to Ledger Insights, the Central Bank of Nigeria recently unveiled new enhancements for its central bank digital currency (CBDC), the eNaira, aiming to stimulate its service offerings and promote wider adoption among users.
To begin with, the eNaira will now support NFC (Near Field Communication) technology, the same technology employed by popular platforms like Apple Pay and Google Pay for contactless payments. This upgrade enables the convenience of peer-to-peer (P2P) transfers, further streamlining transactions for eNaira users. Moreover, the central bank will introduce advanced programmability functions, allowing users to impose restrictions on payments, particularly for government assistance programs such as farmer loans.
With the appointment of a new central bank governor following a period of uncertainty, Nigeria is committed to propelling the eNaira’s acceptance through innovative features. Joseph Angaye, the deputy director of the central bank’s risk management department, emphasized the importance of keeping up with digital advancements, stating, “The world is going digital and the CBN cannot afford to lag behind. So, when there’s a new technology, we embrace it.”
The integration of NFC technology into the eNaira introduces novel opportunities for retail and P2P payments. While QR codes may have previously facilitated these transactions, the addition of NFC contactless payments significantly enhances the ease of adoption for retail merchants and creates a more user-friendly payment experience. Reports from Nigeria suggest that the central bank has even introduced an NFC tag that can be attached to feature phones that lack built-in NFC capabilities, although this information has not been officially confirmed.
In addition to the NFC upgrade, the central bank announced enhanced programmability features for the eNaira, designed to improve user-friendliness and optimize the efficiency of government welfare programs. These new capabilities enable the CBDC to be programmed for specific locations or designated purchases, granting users better control over their spending habits. Importantly, this programmability empowers public authorities to ensure that subsidies are utilized as intended.
Mr. Angaye highlighted the benefits of these developments, stating, “If we want to get funds across to farmers to acquire tools or for any other specific thing, we program it. They cannot divert the money transferred into their eNaira wallet to some other things.” By incorporating programmability, the eNaira aligns with the goal of fostering responsible spending while safeguarding the effective allocation of funds for targeted initiatives.
With these new features, the Central Bank of Nigeria is poised to strengthen the eNaira’s position as a modern digital currency, promoting financial inclusivity and facilitating seamless transactions for users across the nation.