The Central Bank of Nigeria’s technical partner, Bitt inc, has announced plans to roll out a new mobile application that allows the unbanked population to access eNaira.
This was disclosed by Chief Executive Officer of Bitt Inc, Brian Popelka in a virtual interview with Coindesk, in reaction to the assertion that the eNaira is only for now, available to consumers who have bank accounts.
According to the NIBBS, Nigeria has approximately 47 million BVN holders, with only a third actively doing banking transactions. Thus, for a country with over 200 million, it shows that the number of unbanked is substantial.
What Bitt Inc CEO is saying
Popelka stated that financial inclusion was the main objective of the eNaira but the first phase needs to build trust between the eNaira and already existing financial institutions before focusing on the unbanked.
He said, “A lesson we learnt from rolling out CBDC previously when we thought we could reach the unbanked from the onset directly was trust. We learnt the need to go through the financial institution first to establish a baseline of trust.”
The CEO of the blockchain and payments startup stated that a mobile application specific to addressing issues of the unbanked was soon to be unveiled to the public.
“In Nigeria, it is a methodological rollout; this is our initial stage. A phone app specific for unbanked folks will be rolling out very soon, considering the fast follow-up from us. So that is how we see the financial inclusion question coming through. As far as interest goes, it is hard to say this early what the interest is. I imagine that the concept has a newness to it; people want to understand the inner workings of it and what to use it for.”
“We like the idea that there are stages. Nigeria has a very foursome rollout for all of the users for which we hope to get to over the course of many years, which means that they and we, of course, are in it for the long haul,” he said.
Speaking on the reception of the eNaira in Nigeria, Popelka said that the CBN has already commenced the disbursing of the digital currencies to several key financial institutions, adding that consumers and merchants have been downloading the app.
“Post-launch though, as you can imagine, as the initial rollouts, it is just sign-ups. Well, the central bank has minted and disbursed digital currencies to several key financial institutions. And therefore, there are merchants and consumers that are really just getting into the app store, downloading the app, and moving their traditional currencies into digital format at this stage,” Popelka said.
What you should know
- On Monday, August 30th the Central Bank of Nigeria announced it had selected Bitt as the technical partner for its digital currency, dubbed eNaira, which was presented later this year.
- Sources within the Central Bank informed Nairametrics that one of the conditions being considered for accepting Bitt Inc is for the company to register in Nigeria as a limited liability company allowing the central bank to own shares in its Nigerian entity.
- Bitt is a financial technology business that uses blockchain and distributed ledger technology to enable safe peer-to-peer transactions with seamless mobile money across Bitt’s software and mobile apps.
- Bitts core objective is to develop payment systems for people, merchants, banks, and central banks that promote social inclusion, financial empowerment, and economic growth for current and future generations.
- An earlier plan to unveil the digital currency on October 1 was shelved, the eNaira went live after an official launching by President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, October 25, 2021.
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