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CBN says Nigeria will launch its digital currency by end of 2021

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has unveiled plans to launch a digital currency before December.

The Director, Information Technology, CBN, Ms. Rakiya Mohammed, made the announcement on Thursday during a virtual media briefing at the end of a Bankers Committee meeting.

According to het, just like everybody has access to cash, everyone would also have access to the central bank’s digital currency.

She said: “Let me state categorically that cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin and the rest of them are not under the control of the central bank; they are purely private decisions that individuals make and are not part of this arrangement.

“We have spent over two years studying this concept of central bank’s digital currency and we have identified the risks. And it is one of the reasons why I said we are setting up a central governance structure that would involve all industry stakeholders to access all the risks as we continue on this journey.

“Very soon we would make an announcement on the date for the launch and by the end of the year, we should have the digital currency.”

According to her, about 80 per cent of central banks across the world are presently exploring the possibility of issuing the central bank’s digital currency, saying that Nigeria cannot be left behind.

Shedding more light on the implication of the digital currency, Mohammed said: “You are aware that we have two forms of fiat money: The notes and the coins. So, the central bank’s digital currency is the third form of fiat money. So, this digital money is going to complement the cash and note that we have.

“The central bank digital currency will just be as good as you having cash in your pocket. So, if you are having the currency in your pocket, you are as good as having cash on your phone.

“Now, why did we need to go into this? There are different cases that the central bank is looking at. For instance, we have remittances, which is a huge market in Africa. We also know that in the last EFInA report, our target for this year was to achieve 80 per cent financial inclusion. We are about 60 per cent and at the rate we are going, it is unlikely we would meet this target. But the central bank digital currency would accelerate this target.”

She said it would support the cashless policy as well as innovation, adding that the central bank has a “very clear roadmap on this and we are about to move to the next stage of a proof of consent after which we would start a pilot.”

Recall that the CBN had previously barred deposit money banks and all other financial institutions in the country from any virtual currency transaction.

The CBN, in a circular, had said deposit money banks and other financial institutions were being barred because payments and exchanges using cryptocurrency were untraceable and anonymous, making them susceptible to abuse by criminals, especially in money laundering and terrorism cases.

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