The Central Bank of Nigeria, recently introduced the eNaira, a Nigeria-issued digital currency that provides a unique form of money denominated in Naira.
The Central Bank said the eNaira serves as both a medium of exchange and a store of value, offering better payment prospects in retail transactions when compared to cash payments. It added that the Digital Currency has two applications – eNaira speed wallet and eNaira merchant wallet.
Not a few Nigerians are yet to come to terms with the digital currency and have complained about the unpreparedness of the banking sector for the introduction of a digital currency. They say the level of fraud in the system ought to be addressed first, with other reforms before the eNaira’s coming.
Barrister Patrick Biose is a Legal Practitioner, in Benin City. He says, “I have heard of the e-naira but I have not given it any attention. Yes I have also heard of digital currencies like bitcoins and the rest but the truth of the matter is that there is a whole lot of wahala an average Nigerian is carrying on his head. So for me I have not been internet inclined to follow all that is happening online and so on”.
He however also argues that, “a whole lot of problems which should be dealt with before the introduction of the e-naira. The Central Bank itself needs to carry out some serious legal and operational reforms”.
The lawyer is of the view that, “A lot of Nigerians presently do have confidence in the banking sector”. Talking from experiences, he said, “I did a purchase and transferred the money but even with the evidence of a transfer the person still insisted that he still needs to go the bank to ascertain if the money is actually in his account. I blamed him in the process because he lost my patronage thereafter”.
He argues that in, “… actual fact you cannot blame the public for this attitude because a lot has happened and is still happening like the issue of fake alerts. Somebody makes a purchase, send an alert and in the end, it is fake. As a result there is an extreme lack of trust in the banking system in Nigeria”.
Furthermore he said, ” There are also cases of people withdrawal monies from your account and the bank telling you that you did the transaction. Yet this a fraud committed on your account which the bank has no answer to. So this is where we have a big problem in the litigation sector by the account operator as the bank can be taken up for negligence. Much as the account owner needs to safeguard the account by all means possible, the onus is on the bank to protect every account in its custody”.
He concluded that, “Take for example how the bank spends more money to print the naira. It does not make economic sense spending N10 to gain 5k! Such reform includes dealing with unverifiable transactions involving outsiders other than the bank account owners.
“There has to be a way to check this. For example if a customer comes with a complaint about a transaction on his account that he did not carry out, there should be a way to confirm, it is true or not. In summary the banking sector in Nigeria is not safe. If the cash deposits are not safe how can the digital deposits be safe? These are areas the CBN ought to concern itself with in the public interest.”
On his part, Engr Hope Idialu, who is Chief Executive of Hopeades Construction Coy Ltd, Ekpoma says, “I have heard about it. It is a digital currency introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN but have I not considered downloading the e-naira app. I hope to do that anytime soon and thereafter study how it works and how I can integrate it into my business transactions”.
He says the concept is good for Nigeria but that, “it will take time for people to be able to appreciate its usefulness. I say that because right now there are many Nigerians who do not even have a bank account. When you want to do business with them, they tell you that they do not have an account. Then there is the issue of people not having confidence in the cashless system involving the transfer of money; many prefer to be paid in cash”
He holds the view that, ” Many Nigerians are afraid of banks as they do not trust the banks. They believe that a lot of fraud, hacking is going on inside these banks and so they do not have faith in the system”.
He wonders, ” if the e-naira can flourish” adding, “..the Central Bank should have sanitized the banking sector before introducing the e-naira. Also it needs to enlighten the people on what is involved as well”.
His recipe for the CBN is , “There is a general need to improve banking services to the public. The services right now are very poor. People are very skeptical of banks and bank workers. They do not feel their monies are safe even inside the bank vaults. One area the CBN should sanitize is the cashless system where people do business with money transfer. There are fake bank alerts just as some are real. There have been cases of money transferred not entering particular accounts and the bank is handicapped to explain or sort out what went wrong. This is one area that needs to be dealt with”.
He sqid, “The fears of the banking public needs to be addressed more so as the e-naira is a digital currency that can be subject to digital challenges like hacking”.
1.Barr Patrick Biose
2. Engr Hope Idialu