The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently held the 2022 eNaira Hackathon Grand finale, a competition aimed at solving six major financial problems in Nigeria.
The eNaira is expected to enhance financial inclusion, support poverty reduction, enable direct welfare disbursement to citizens, support a resilient payments ecosystem, improve availability and usability of central bank money, facilitate diaspora remittances, reduce the cost of processing cash, and reduce cost and improve efficiency of cross-border payment among others.
Hackathon is an initiative that creates a collaborative environment for experts with a diverse set of skills to drive sustained innovation geared towards making the eNaira the pinnacle for digital financial services and the gateway to the digital economy.
As at the last count, the eNaira has reached 840,000 downloads, with about 270,000 active wallets comprising over 252,000 consumer wallets and 17,000 merchant wallets. The volume and value of transactions on the platform have been remarkable, reaching above 200,000 and N4 billion, respectively.
Hackathon was another forward leap by the Central Bank in the implementation of eNaira to ensure all Nigerians receive the full benefits of a central bank digital currency since its launch on October 25, 2021, by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The CBN had noted that eNaira will help facilitate international remittances and FX exchange, drive financial inclusion by understanding the target audience’s needs and help SMEs and startups to create innovative products or enhance their existing services.
In addition, the electronic currency will help facilitate cross-border trade and transfers, facilitate payment for lifestyle services, reduce the cost of inter-bank transfers, and achieve transparency and monitoring through programmable tokens.
CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele, while speaking at the Abuja event, said the Hackathon’s goal is to make the eNaira the African Gateway to Digital Economy.
Emefiele said: “We cannot deny the fact that the newly introduced eNaira would be necessary in the future to ensure Nigeria is competitive as the world becomes increasingly digital.
“We have seen in the past few years how digital currencies have opened international economies to individuals who wield them and how seamless they have made trading, buying, investing and other economic activities.
“We desire to achieve this and more with the eNaira with the underlying goal to boost Nigeria’s economic outlook.
“Innovators at the hackathon will develop solutions in the areas of international remittance, trans-border payment, blockchain, financial inclusion, and trade (AfCTFA).”
From an initial cohort of over 105 groups that made the quarter finals and 75 teams that progressed to the semi-finals, the Hackathon reached its climax with 20 teams in the finals from which the top 10 teams emerged as prize winners.
Group head of African Fintech Foundry Daniel Awe said the Hackathon is a platform that brings entrepreneurs, coders, product managers to solve problems and build new business models.
The eNaira Hackathon recorded a sizable interest from young and innovative Nigerians with a total of 4,667 registrations, comprising 4,082 male and 582 female applicants.
Speaking at the programme, Emefiele said the massive application corroborates the fact that Nigerians, both within and outside the country, possess innovative ideas and are willing and ready to leverage on exciting opportunities that the eNaira presents for enhancing digital financial services and contributing to national development.
Also speaking on the initiative, Director of Information and Technology at the CBN Rakiya Muhammad said: “If you follow the hackathon we held, we had some brilliant ideas; over 4000 entries from Nigerian youth, who taught that they could build a product on top of that.
“Some of the products we have seen are to give people the opportunity to do staking, which is similar to them earning some income on their eNaira.”
CBN to reduce service charge for merchants on eNaira by 50%
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disclosed that service charges for merchants using the eNaira would be reduced by 50 per cent to attract more transactions on the platform.
The Deputy Governor of CBN, Economic Policies, Dr Kingsley Obiora, during the onboarding of merchants on the platform recently, said the incentive is to enable the adoption of the platform by Nigerians.
Obiora, while stating that merchants could be owners of petrol stations, supermarkets, e-Commerce and other businesses, said they should leverage the opportunities offered by eNaira to improve cash management and make significant savings in operating costs.
He stated that the platform is imbued with opportunities for increasing business income as the availability of the eNaira payment option on e-Commerce merchant platforms such as Remita is expected to complement the existing digital payment system, translating to about a 50% increment in e-commerce transactions and at a lower cost.
“Also, the implementation of cross-border transactions in phase 3 of the eNaira project is expected to increase cross-border trade by about 30%. Furthermore, the lower transaction cost is expected to increase the usage (transaction volume and value) of eNaira and improve income generation by businesses.”
Speaking, the President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, said if the eNaira is fully embraced, there are several benefits attached to it for the business community.
Mr Awe said the CBN’s role was just to create the platform for fintech startups and the role of entrepreneurs was to create the ecosystem to create solutions that would benefit the entire financial services space.
“This is so that the consumers of eNaira will now see the benefit of eNaira, they will have the opportunity to see the problem that eNaira will solve.”
…Unveils new short code for subscribers
Already, the CBN has unveiled a new short code for subscribers of its digital currency, eNaira to make financial transactions on the platform. The aim is to enhance its acceptability with a focus on deepening the payment system.
“I’m pleased and indeed delighted to inform you all that Nigerians both banked and unbanked will be able to open an eNaira wallet and conduct transactions by simply dialing *997# from their mobile phones,” the CBN governor was quoted as saying.