e-Naira: Prof., others reel out recommendations for success


 Prof. Lauren Cohen, L. E Simmons Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School, United States of America and other stakeholders on Thursday reeled out recommendations to deliver the success of the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).

They spoke at a symposium organised by the Financial Services Group Lagos of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) held physically and virtually.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the symposium had as its theme: “Blockchain Technology, Cryptocurrencies and Central Bank Digital Currencies: Implications for the Global Financial Landscape.”

Cohen listed the positive implications of the CBDC to be easier, cheaper and more fluid, more efficient and effective transactions, better enforcement and monitoring of contract and tax payments and greater financial inclusion.

He, however, noted that the matter of privacy was a big knock of the CBDC that needed to be dealt with.

“For it to be successful, a network group must be created to increase the breadth  and depth of adoption to make it more valuable.

“The CBN must be lauded for rolling out the CBDC in the way they did but more needs to follow to ensure it robustly takes over the decentralised finance system.

“It is the beginning of how fintech should be embraced to create value as an engine that fuels the dynamic landscape to look for path-breaking fintech innovations that are yet to come.

“However, the landmarks must be time, adoption, motor and inclusion sensitive, with definite timelines,” he said.

Mr Uzoma Dozie, Chief Sparkler, Sparkle Nigeria, said government as a big player in the CBDC would engender a ripple effect of success and facilitate the move to cashless and more digitalised financial system.

He noted that the CBDC would increase digital liquidity, and help government pay social funds directly to beneficiaries and vice versa.

“However, there’s the need to scale up infrastructure such as mobile devices, data availability to drive the e-currency adoption across the country,” he said.

Mrs Toki Mabogunje, president, LCCI, quoted Chainalysis report that states that Nigeria currently had the 8th highest cryptocurrency adoption in the world.

Mabogunje, represented by Mr Abimbola Olashore, Treasurer, LCCI, said opportunities in blockchain technology and digital currency could potentially add up to 29 billion dollars to Nigeria Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by the year 2030.

Mabogunje said in recognition of these abundant opportunities, the  Nigerian government was making concerted efforts to broaden policies and regulatory landscape to ensure that benefits of digital financial innovations did not elude the country.

“We laud the Central Bank of Nigeria’s bold moves to develop digital currency codenamed “eNaira,” with Nigeria becoming the first country on the continent and one of the earliest around the world to introduce centrally backed digital currency.

“This reinforces the readiness of the Nigeria government to harness the potential of technology ecosystem to drive economic growth and development through facilitated informal and formal  sectors.

“The LCCI enjoins relevant agencies and regulatory authorities responsible for designing and implementing technology, innovations and investment policies to effectively coordinate their activities.

“This is to develop a harmonized blueprint that will create a level playing field for both private and public players in cryptocurrency ecosystem,”said Mabogunje.

He added that regulations on blockchain technology and digital currency must be dynamic, robust, inclusive, responsive, globally competitive and fit for the Nigerian context.

“This will give fillip to the tech savvy youth to innovate and spur confidence of investors and encourage significant investment in the blockchain ecosystem,” she said.

Mr Obinna Anyanwu, Chairman, Financial Services Group, LCCI, said the COVID-19 pandemic had underscored the importance of digitised financial system as imperative for a developing economy like Nigeria.

This, he said, would help the country integrate more effectively into the global supply chain.

“We are of the firm belief that the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) recently launched by the apex bank could complement the current areas of payment options, thereby ensuring the stability of the payment system in the long run.

“That is why we are here today to deepen the conversation generally on opportunities of blockchain technology and innovations and specifically on how the recently released regulatory guidelines on the e-Naira will drive digital financial transformation in Nigeria,” he said.