eNaira: Everything You Need to Know

eNaira: Everything You Need to Know

eNaira

Nigeria was the 1st African country to launch its Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC): the eNaira. The eNaira was officially launched and activated on 25 October 2021 under President Muhammad Buhari-led administration and Godwin Emefiele as CBN Governor; under the slogan: “Same Naira, More Possibilities”.

CBDCs come in two primary forms: wholesale and retail. Wholesale CBDCs cater to financial institutions. In contrast, retail CBDCs are designed to serve the general public, making everyday transactions more accessible and secure. 

To truly understand the groundbreaking impact of e-Naira, this article seeks to explain what eNaira is, how it works, its benefits, and how you can begin utilizing its functions for your everyday transactions. 

What is a digital currency (CBDC)?

A Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) is a digital form of a country’s currency.  

As of July 2022, IMF estimated that there were nearly 100 CBDCs in research or development stages and two fully launched: the eNaira in Nigeria, unveiled in October 2021, and the Bahamian sand dollar, which debuted in October 2020.

CBDC exists solely in digital form as electronic records, typically stored on secure digital ledgers like blockchains. They lack a physical counterpart, such as paper banknotes or coins.

You may want to confuse CBDCs with the existing cryptocurrencies because they’re built on Blockchain technology, however, they are different in many ways, namely: 

1. Centralized Issuance: The issuance and regulation of CBDCs are exclusively the responsibility of the central bank of the country, in this case, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). This distinguishes CBDCs from cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which operate in a decentralized manner without a central authority. 

2. Legal Tender: CBDCs, such as the eNaira, hold legal tender status within their respective countries.  

This means they have the same recognition and acceptance as physical currency, enabling them for transactions, debt settlements, and financial obligations. Cryptocurrencies have no legal tender. As of July 2023, only two countries believed Bitcoin to be a genuine legal tender: El Salvador and the Central African Republic. 

3. Backed by Reserves: Typically, the value of CBDCs is supported by the central bank’s reserves, ensuring their stability and reliability as a medium of exchange. This backing is crucial in distinguishing CBDCs from cryptocurrencies, which often lack support.

While it shares some similarities with cryptocurrencies in using blockchain technology, CBDCs are fundamentally different, as central authorities regulate them and are typically backed by a country’s financial reserves, ensuring their stability and reliability. 

What is eNaira? 

The eNaira is a digital representation of the Nigerian Naira. Unlike traditional paper banknotes and coins, it exists solely in digital form, encrypted within the blockchain technology. 

It is Nigeria’s official Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), representing a digitized form of the country’s national fiat currency, the Nigerian Naira (NGN). And it is accessible to anyone. 

The eNaira is equivalent to the physical Naira, and the exchange rate between the two is 1:1. One eNaira has the same value as one physical Naira. 

How eNaira works

The eNaira is built upon blockchain technology, specifically a distributed ledger. A blockchain is a decentralized and tamper-resistant digital ledger that records transactions across a network of computers. Blockchain technology is chosen for eNaira due to its robust security features and transparency. Transactions recorded on the blockchain are immutable, making it extremely difficult for unauthorized parties to alter transaction history. 

However, unlike Bitcoin, which operates on a public blockchain, the eNaira functions on a private blockchain to maintain control over onboarding, KYC, and the creation of eNaira wallets. This approach allows the Central Bank of Nigeria to effectively regulate and secure the digital currency. This is why the CBN used the Hyperledger Fabric, which allows private organizations to create their private blockchain. 

Users can hold and manage their eNaira using a digital wallet, which serves as digital storage for the currency. Unlike some financial instruments, the eNaira does not yield any interest to holders. However, it is compatible with existing economic systems, allowing for interoperability with banks and other financial institutions. 

The eNaira is used for various purposes, including domestic and international trade, remittances, peer-to-peer transactions, and retail payments. It offers advantages over cash payments, such as traceability and ease of use. 

History of the E-naira

The CBN first announced its plan to launch the eNaira in February 2021, following a ban on cryptocurrency transactions by banks in the country. Eight months later, on October 25, 20221, President Buhari officially introduced the eNaira.  

The eNaira was developed by Bitt, a Barbados-based fintech company, to design and build the platform. The primary objective was to enhance the Nigerian payment system, promote financial inclusion, and stimulate economic activities. 

It was expected to minimize cross-border transaction costs, reduce the complexity of the financial system, and offer more affordable options compared to traditional money-transfer methods. This was made evident through its slogan, “Same Naira. More Possibilities” 

President Buhari predicted that establishing a CBDC like the eNaira might enhance economic activities and raise Nigeria’s GDP by $29 billion over the following ten years. 

During its roll-out, the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, said that eNaira would enhance the efficiency of the payment system and promote financial inclusion. And further exposed that 500 million Naira ($1.21 million) had already been minted. 

The platform launched with a three-tier structure where the CBN will issue and distribute the eNaira to authorized financial institutions; the financial institutions will provide the eNaira wallets and services to customers; and the customers will use the eNaira wallets to make transactions with merchants and other users. 

Challenges with the eNaira 

1. Lack of Public Awareness and Trust

Lack of familiarity with its features, benefits, and risks poses a challenge in establishing trust and confidence in eNaira’s security, reliability, and privacy. The app has garnered relatively few downloads, indicating a low adoption rate among the population. 

2. Technical Issues and Cyber-Attacks

The app relies on complex technology and infrastructure, which may be susceptible to technical glitches, errors, or failures that could disrupt operations or compromise data. Cyber-attacks from hackers or malicious actors pose a significant threat to the security and integrity of the entire system. 

3. User Experience and Trust Issues

  Some users have reported poor user experiences with the eNaira app, leading to distrust in its functionality.

4. Security Concerns

Fraudsters are known to exploit mobile devices, reverse engineer apps, and use trojans and overlays to deceive users and steal information or funds. Because the National Identification Number is necessary for the eNaira wallet and is related to various personal information, keyloggers, mobile malware, and infiltration of the portable clipboard can lead to the loss of confidential user data. 

5. Dependency on Technology

Like any digital system, the eNaira is vulnerable to technical glitches, server outages, and network failures. Contingency plans must be in place to address such issues promptly. 

Advantages of eNaira

The eNaira offers many advantages spanning economic, financial, and social dimensions. These advantages include:  

1. Free Transfers: Unlike traditional banking systems that often levy transaction fees, the eNaira provides a cost-effective means of transferring funds. This feature is particularly beneficial for individuals and businesses looking to reduce transaction costs and enhance the efficiency of their financial operations.

2. Fast Transactions: The eNaira website boasts of lightning-fast transaction processing. Users can enjoy swift and hassle-free transfers, making it ideal for time-sensitive payments and business transactions. 

3. Quick Setup for the Unbanked: In 2020, 58 million adult Nigerians—or about 55%—were unbanked. Thirty-five million of them have smartphones and are thus reachable by mobile money. The eNaira will enable these people to participate in the formal economy and access financial services such as savings, credit, insurance, and pensions. 

4. Reducing Cash Handling Costs: Traditional cash handling involves printing, transporting, storing, and securing physical currency, incurring significant costs and risks. The eNaira significantly reduces these overheads by providing a secure and digital alternative to physical cash. 

5. Simplified Cross-Border Transactions: The World Bank estimates that remittances to Nigeria will total approximately $17.2 billion in 2020. The eNaira streamlines cross-border payments and trade, making international transactions faster, cheaper, and more accessible. 

6. Simplified Transactions: eNaira allows individuals and businesses to make digital payments easily. Whether it’s paying for goods and services online or transferring funds to family and friends, eNaira streamlines the payment process. This also offers convenience to users. 

7. Contactless Payments: eNaira can support contactless payments using QR codes or near-field communication (NFC) technology, offering a fast and secure way to complete transactions in physical stores. 

How to Use the eNaira App

After downloading the app, you’ll be prompted to create an account or log in. 

eNaira App
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When you choose to create an account, you’ll encounter four options: 

Individual Wallet: This lets you send and receive money quickly, anywhere and anytime. 

Edu Wallet: With the Edu Wallet, Gen Z can securely engage in the digital economy. 

Business Wallet: This option lets you easily set up a business account. 

Mini Business Wallet: Tailored for SMEs and small businesses. 

eNaira App
#image_title

(For this tutorial, we’ll focus on the Individual Wallet.) 

Next, you’ll be asked to select a wallet type based on the amount of documentation required: 

Bronze Wallet: Requires NIN and phone number, with a daily transaction limit of ₦20,000. 

Silver Wallet: Requires BVN and phone number, with a daily transaction limit of ₦200,000. 

Gold Wallet: Requires BVN, phone number, and a public utility receipt, with a daily transaction limit of ₦500,000. 

eNaira App

After providing your details, you’ll be prompted to check if your bank is an eNaira partner. The app provides a list of partner banks. 

eNaira App

You will then be required to provide additional information, including your account number, Local Government Area (LGA), address, and nationality. 

eNaira App

Following this, you’ll receive an OTP (One-Time Password) via either SMS or a voice call. Enter the code and proceed. A success page will appear, and you’ll be asked to log in again. 

eNaira App

 
Your login credentials will be sent to you, and you should use the wallet ID, not your phone number, to log in. 

 
Congratulations, you’ve successfully logged in! 

eNaira Registration Successful

 
For Feature Phone Users you can use the USSD code method: 

  1. Feature phone users can access eNaira by dialing the USSD code 99750#. 
  1. Follow the registration prompts provided through the USSD code. 
  1. Depending on the tier of wallet you wish to create, you may need to provide the necessary information. 

Core features of the eNaira App

Once you’ve installed and registered with the eNaira Speed Wallet, you can explore its wide range of functionalities: 

Digital Wallet Access: Access your eNaira wallet through the mobile app, web interface, or other authorized digital platforms. 

Making Payments: Conduct transactions efficiently, online and in physical stores, by selecting eNaira as a payment option during checkout at participating merchants. 

Initiate peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions to transfer eNaira directly to other users, whether for payments, purchases, or sending money to friends and family. 

Receiving Payments: Receive notifications on your wallet application when payments are made to your wallet, confirming the successful transaction. 

Security Measures: Enhance security by setting up a Personal Identification Number (PIN) or password to protect your wallet and authorize transactions. 

For added security, some wallet apps offer biometric authentication options, such as fingerprint or facial recognition. 

Transaction History: Keep track of all your eNaira transactions within the app, including dates, amounts, and transaction IDs. 

Sending eNaira Internationally: Facilitate cross-border transactions by using eNaira to send money internationally. The recipient’s wallet address is used to initiate international transfers. 

Conversion to Fiat Currency: Convert your eNaira into traditional fiat currency through authorized exchanges or banks. This typically involves linking your wallet to your bank account and initiating a withdrawal. 

FAQ’s 

Can I use eNaira to send money abroad? 

Yes, the eNaira offers the capability to send money abroad.

How much can an eNaira wallet hold? 

The limits vary depending on the tier: 

– Tier 0: N20,000.00 daily transaction limit and N120,000.00 balance limit. 

– Tier 1: N50,000.00 daily transaction limit and N300,000.00 balance limit. 

– Tier 2: N200,000.00 daily transaction limit and N500,000.00 balance limit. 

– Tier 3: N1,000,000.00 daily transaction limit and N5,000,000.00 balance limit. 

– No specific limit is mentioned for Merchants. 

What makes eNaira different from the money in your account?

It exists purely in digital form, whereas traditional bank account money exists as physical cash and digital entries in a bank. 

Will eNaira replace cash?

No, eNaira will not replace cash. Instead, it will circulate alongside money. The eNaira is intended to complement currency as a less costly, more efficient, generally accepted, safe, and trusted means of payment.

Is the eNaira safe? 

Yes. eNaira is safe and secure with cryptographic techniques against counterfeiting, cloning, and other forms of attack. It is designed to ensure the security of digital transactions and protect users from potential threats. 

Conclusion 

The adoption of the eNaira by citizens may not be entirely voluntary, and government incentives, social interventions, or even coercion might play a role in driving widespread acceptance. 

However, it is essential to know that when a government renders cash obsolete, citizens may seek alternative decentralized money to preserve their financial autonomy. It remains to be seen how eNaira will shape the future of digital payments, financial inclusion, and cross-border trade in Nigeria. But  

For those eager to experience the eNaira and benefit from the advantages of transacting with Africa’s first Central Bank Digital Currency, the option is available to download the Mobile app, which provides access to this innovative digital payment system. 

And we’d be here to continue covering the journey and impact the eNaira has on Nigeria’s economic landscape in the coming years.

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