The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) have unveiled Nigeria’s first National payment card, AfriGo.
The card, which will function like other international payment cards, is aimed at boosting financial inclusion in the country and reducing dependence on foreign cards.
During the unveiling at a virtual event on Thursday, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said the card was designed to cater to local peculiarities that the existing card products have failed to cater to.
According to him, with the AfriGo card, Nigeria has joined countries like China, Russia, Turkey, and India which have their local cards. He noted that the operation of the local cards will not prevent the use of the existing international cards but will provide more options for Nigerians.
Rivaling Visa and Master Card
The launching of the AfriGo card is coming 10 days behind the earlier scheduled time by the CBN.
- Recall that earlier in October 2022, the CBN announced that it would launch a national domestic card scheme on January 16, 2023.
- It said the scheme will be launched through the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) in partnership with the Bankers Committee, adding that it would accelerate financial inclusion and deliver lower-cost payments services that are more accessible and affordable for Nigerians.
- The apex bank said apart from fostering innovation within the Nigerian domestic market, the scheme would allow banks to offer a variety of solutions including debit, credit, virtual, loyalty, and tokenized cards amongst others.
- By launching the scheme, the CBN said Nigeria would join countries like India, Turkey, China, and Brazil which have used this means to service the underbanked areas in their jurisdiction.
- The Nigerian National Domestic card is expected to rival Visa and Mastercard, the market’s biggest players.
New card not targeted at international investors
Emefiele also noted that the introduction of AfriGo was not an attempt to discourage international investors’ operations in the Nigerian payments space but that it had become necessary owing to its obvious advantages.
- He said, “This effort is not an attempt to prevent international service providers from continuing to provide services in Nigeria. Rather, it aimed at providing more options for domestic consumers, while also promoting the delivery of services in a more cost-effective and competitive manner.
- “The CBN is committed to a robust and safe payment system and welcomes innovations from domestic and foreign investors.
- “The Nigerian market is vast and the current participants have done so in the last 12 years to transform the ecosystem. Yet there is much ground to cover as millions of Nigerians are still without cards to consummate transactions.
- “I am convinced that the National Domestic Card scheme will make this a reality in the coming months. We can no longer neglect the vast majority of Nigerians.
Benefits of AfriGo
Highlighting the benefits of the National card, the apex bank Governor said the card provides an opportunity to integrate the informal sector of the economy into the financial system.
He said this will also lower the cost of card production for Nigerian banks and reduce the need for forex to acquire foreign cards.
Also speaking on what Nigeria stands to gain from the card, the Deputy Governor of CBN and Chairman of NIBSS, Aisha Ahmad, said:
- “With the implementation of the National Domestic Card Scheme, the industry will reap potential benefits which include improved transaction security, better pricing opportunities, reduced demand for FX and less pressure on the Naira, locally relevant partnerships and offerings developing local skills in card and payment space.
- “Other advantages include a boost to financial inclusion, value retention, flexible and innovative scale, source of national pride.”
She added that based on the global card ownership statistics report, the Nigerian adult population owns about 32% and 3% of Debit & Credit cards.
- “This ranks Nigeria as the 75th in the world in debit card to population ratio and 114th in the world in credit card to population ratio.
- “Nigeria has a low card-to-population ratio when it is benchmarked globally, and this has a major impact on the government’s drive to aggressively boost financial inclusion.”
The company behind the card: Ahmad disclosed that the AfriGo card was developed by AfriGopay Financial Services Limited, an affiliate of NIBSS licensed by the CBN.
- The Company is responsible for deploying and managing the National Domestic Card Scheme for Nigeria.
A government issued and managed debit / credit card in 2023….what happened to verve & co?
This looks like another e-naira failed project….innovation from Nigerian government? How?