Over time, digital currencies have gained in popularity. One of the most prominent is Bitcoin, which was founded in 2009 by the enigmatic Satoshi Nakamoto and was the first successful version.
Its appeal is partly due to accounts of those who have made enormous sums of money investing in it, as well as others who have lost money.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced yesterday that Bitt, a global fintech business specializing in central bank digital currency (CBDC) solutions, has been granted the contract for its eNaira digital currency. Pilots are set to begin in October, as previously reported.
The launch of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank’s CBDC pilot in April of this year was made possible by the startup. It is currently attempting to break into the African market, which boasts the continent’s largest population.
“Bitt is proud to partner with the Central Bank of Nigeria to launch the first live retail CBDC in the largest economy in Africa. Digitizing the Naira will benefit the entire Nigerian financial ecosystem,” said Bitt’s CEO, Brian Popelka.
The company’s major corporate purpose is to provide people, merchants, and financial institutions with financial access. It noted that financial inclusion is a primary goal for the Eastern Caribbean CBDC, and the eNaira is being developed with a similar objective.
Unbanked Nigerians account for 23.7 percent of the population. This could be due to expensive financial service fees, long wait times at branches, a lack of identification documents, or a lack of trust in institutions.
A CBDC, as a digital form of cash, would make cash more available to the general public and allow them to engage in Nigeria’s burgeoning e-commerce industry.
The CBN is also working to improve the efficiency of cross-border payments. According to the World Bank, Nigeria’s total remittances in 2020 amounted to $17.2 billion. A CBDC could facilitate direct remittance transfers between Nigerians living in the country and those living abroad.
“Given the significant explosion in the use of digital payments and the rise in the digital economy, the CBN’s decision follows an unmistakable global trend in which over 85% of central banks are now considering adopting digital currencies,” the CBN said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Medici Ventures, which was once a wholly-owned subsidiary of Overstock but is now a limited partnership venture fund, controls Bitt.
Nigeria is one of several African countries experimenting with a digital currency backed by a central bank. The Bank of Ghana acknowledged in June that its CBDC work was well advanced. Morocco, South Africa, and Egypt are among the African countries that are looking at CBDC (as of 2018).
Bitt submitted one of the solutions in Singapore’s Global CBDC Challenge, which has now named 15 finalists. Singapore is looking for the best retail CBDC options while not having committed to launching one.
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