CBN names Barbados-based Bitt Inc. as technical partner for proposed e-Naira digital currency

Ejike Kanife
The CBN will introduce digital currency in Nigeria - Godwin Emefiele
Former CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced the engagement of a Barbados-based fintech, Bitt Inc, as its technical partner for achieving the e-Naira digital currency.

This was revealed in a statement by CBN’s Director of Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi. The statement pointed out that the selection of Bitt Inc. from among highly competitive bidders was based on the company’s technical competence, efficiency, platform security, interoperability, and implementation experience.

The CBN also noted that Bitt Inc. was key to the development and successful launch of the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) pilot of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) in April 2021 and as such has the right experience to be technical partners for the CBN’s Project Giant.

In choosing Bitt Inc. the CBN will rely on the company’s tested and proven digital currency experience, which is already in circulation in several Eastern Caribbean countries

See also: 5 Things you should know as CBN plans to launch digital currency before end of 2021

Nigeria could become the first African country to launch a digital currency if the plan to launch the e-Naira by October is actualized.

Meanwhile, it appears to be a race between Nigeria and South Africa. The South African Reserve Bank is already exploring the feasibility of launching a digital Rand (ZAR) which can be used for general retail purposes by consumers in the country.

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Ghana, Morocco and Kenya are among other African countries looking to introduce digital fiat currency at the earliest possible time. Only two countries in the world – the Bahamas and China, have officially launched digital fiat currency.

There’s also a possibility that mobile wallets would replace bank accounts if the e-Naira is actualized. Unlike with traditional bank accounts, opening a digital Naira account may require just a user’s phone number and an identity document, similar to the way mobile money wallets work.

According to the CBN, the e-Naira would be considered a critical national infrastructure and be protected from operational and cyber-security risks.

Describing the e-Naira as a cryptocurrency, CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele said the digital money would bring about increased cross-border trade, accelerate financial inclusion, and lead to cheaper and faster remittance inflow.

While the Barbados-based Bitt Inc has experience in developing a blockchain-issued central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot for the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), it would be interesting to know if any Nigerian fintech was involved in the CBN selection process.

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