eNaira is 'crippled': Nigeria in talks with NY-based company for revamp

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) continues with its attempts to create its central bank digital currency (CBDC), the eNaira, but this time it’s calling in for backup.

In a Bloomberg report on Feb. 21, the CBN is in talks with new “technology partners” for the development of a new and improved system to manage the eNaira.

The Nigerian financial authority has discussed these plans with the New York-based technology firm R3, according to sources close to the matter.

New software for the eNaria will be created with the intention for the CBN to keep full control over the initiative, however, the unnamed source said the matter is confidential.

The effort to create the eNaira began back in 2021 with the help of United States-based Bitt Inc. According to the report, a new partner won’t take Bitt Inc.’s role immediately but rather help phase in total control for the Nigerian central bank.

In a statement, Bitt Inc. said it is aware that the CBN works with various partners for its technological innovations. It confirmed nonetheless that it still works closely with the CBN and is “currently developing additional features and enhancements.”

Related: Nigerian crypto exchange Roqqu receives European virtual currency license

Although it is one of the first countries to have launched a CBDC, Nigeria’s eNaira has been off to a sluggish start in terms of local adoption. According to some reports, which called the ambitious project “crippled,” only 0.5% of Nigerians have adopted the CBDC. 

In January a Nigerian innovator launched the country’s first active Bitcoin Lightning node and shortly before that, the country announced its plan to create a legal framework for stablecoins and ICOs.

Nigeria is one among 87 countries with involvement in CBDCs. Others include Russia and Japan, both of which have plans to roll out their currencies before the summer. The city of San Francisco is also looking into the possibility of developing a CBDC system.

Nonetheless, there is active pushback against these centralized digital currencies from activists who have deemed them as “surveillance” tools.

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