Since launching its digital currency last October, Nigeria has seen 840,000 people use the eNaira, and the country is now looking to get that number up to 8 million.
As Bloomberg reported Thursday (Aug. 18), the country’s central bank hopes to hit that goal by attracting people without bank accounts as it moves into the second phase of the digital currency’s expansion.
“Just like the naira, the eNaira is expected to be available to all Nigerians and will provide more possibilities to bring the unbanked into the digital economy,” Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele said during a bank-sponsored hackathon to create products around the eNaira.
The report noted that many Nigerians have turned to cryptocurrencies as the naira loses value, despite a warning by the central bank that commercial lenders had to cease crypto transactions. The eNaira has 270,000 active uses, compare to 33.4 million people in Nigeria who have either owned or traded crypto.
PYMNTS reported on this phenomenon earlier this month, noting Nigerians had traded roughly $400 million as of June.
“We’ve seen a surge in the USD savings we have in our vault,” Igwe Chrisent, founder of online trading platform Truzact, told Voice of America. “Nobody wants to have a million naira worth $2,000 today and then tomorrow, your 1 million naira is now worth $1,500. So, everybody is basically trying to hedge against the dollar.
“No matter how bad the naira falls, their money is not affected. That’s the only thing making people come to crypto.”
Keturah Ovio, CEO of book-keeping startup Dukka, said in an interview with Bloomberg that while the eNaira is an enticing project, rising inflation has kept people from embracing it.
“To drive adoption, the central bank has to take initiatives to drive down inflation and improve trust in the local currency,” Ovio said.
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