Nigeria unveiled on Monday, October 25 a digital version of its currency, the eNaira, whose launch was scheduled for early October but had been postponed, citing celebrations of the anniversary of the country’s independence.
The launch was supposed to take place on October 1, but it was delayed by celebrations for the independence of the country, the continent’s largest economy.
Across the world, central banks are looking to create digital versions of their currencies, CBDCs, in the face of the growth in payments made online and to compete with cryptocurrencies that escape state control or global regulators.
Nigerians will be able to download the eNaira app and fund their mobile wallets using their existing bank accounts.
With this launch, Nigeria, Africa’s leading economy in terms of GDP and the most populous country on the continent (nearly 220 million inhabitants), is a pioneer on the continent, alongside Ghana which has been testing its since September e-Cedi, as a new means of exchange.
Cryptocurrencies are widely used in Nigeria, ranked in 2020 the third user of virtual currencies in the world after the United States and Russia, by a study by the specialized research firm Statista.
In recent years, the Central Bank of Nigeria has expressed concern about the impact of cryptocurrencies on its economy, arguing in particular that they are used for money laundering and terrorist financing.
China became the first major economy to launch a test version of a digital currency in 2020. Since then, at least five countries have launched their virtual currencies, according to the American think tank Atlantic Council.