The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) plans to introduce digital currency before the end of the year, its Director Information Technology, Rakiya Mohammed, said on Thursday.
Speaking at the end of 306th Bankers’ Committee Meeting, she said the currency will be accessible to all Nigerians.
Admitting the risks associated with the proposed digital currency, the director assured that it will operate alongside other virtual currencies like the cryptocurrency.
She, however, cautioned that the CBN lacks control over other virtual or digital currencies as those transacting with such currencies are doing so strictly on personal basis.
The CBN chief said: “Nobody stopped them. The CBN is exploring the possibility of issuing digital currency.
Nigeria cannot be left behind in the drive for digital currency. Over two years now, the CBN has been exploring the technology and made tremendous progress.
“In Nigeria, we have the notes and coins, so the CBN Digital Currency is meant to be a form of fiat money. It is going to complement the coins and notes that we have.”
According to her, the CBN digital currency is just as good as having cash in one’s pocket adding that before the end of the year, the CBN will be making announcement on the pilot scheme.
She said the move will boost financial inclusion and deepen access to financial services.
She said the digital currency will accelerate Nigeria’s ability to meet financial inclusion target because regardless of where you are, you can use the CBN digital currency.
“Having the CBN Digital Currency that is backed by government is good for the digital economy,” she said.
The apex bank’s Director, Banking Supervision, Haruna Mustafa, said the Bankers’ Committee discussed a range of issues.
He said there are ongoing plans by the CBN in collaboration with the managing directors of banks to launch domestic cards. Digital currency will be accessible to all Nigerians and will help promote financial inclusion.
Group Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, said the committee also decided that all card schemes will be registered locally to enhance the efficiency of the payment system.
“It will also minimise the funds spent by banks in card transactions thereby helping to conserve foreign currencies”, he said.
The committee also discussed the need for banks to ensure dollars are available to forex end users.
The Committee also talked about making forex available to end users for business and personal travel allowances. The Committee said Bureaux De Change (BDCs) will continue to have their weekly allocations, and the banks will have their allocations too.
“We want to ensure that all the touchpoint where Nigerians go to purchase dollars are well funded. That’s why the CBN is giving more dollars to banks and funding for BDCs will continue,” the committee said.