From Uche Usim, Abuja

Nigeria’s journey to running a cashless economy gained traction on Thursday, as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) launched the national domestic card payment scheme.

The card, which is an initiative of the apex bank, the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS) and the Bankers’ Committee is consistent with Nigeria’s cashless policy which commenced in 2012.

Speaking at the virtual unveiling, the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said the card also seeks to deepen financial inclusion, lessen cost of transactions and enhance data sovereignty and track spending.

According to him, the CBN has been deliberate in collaborating with relevant stakeholders to enhance the national payments infrastructure through initiatives such as the Bank Verification Number (BVN), Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS), Shared Agent Network Facility (SANEF), Regulatory Sandbox, Open banking and the eNaira, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Digital Currency, among others.

He assured that charges in dollars which characterise the current card pay systems like MasterCard and Visa will be eliminated as charges would be in naira.

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Emefiele added that with the new card, Nigeria joins nations like China, Russia, Turkey and India who have launched domestic card schemes and harnessed the transformative benefits for their respective payments and financial systems, particularly for the underbanked.

“We can no longer neglect the vast majority of the Nigerians whose daily payments needs are micropayments. We need to capture them in national statistics to further understand their transaction dynamics and properly target interventions in that sector of the economy.

“The National Domestic Card Scheme bodes opportunities for our economy to integrate the informal segment of our economy, reduce shadow banking, bring more Nigerians into the formal financial services with attendant diversification of deposit portfolio which will further strengthen the stability of the banking industry”, he added.

In his remarks, Premier Oiwoh, the Managing Director of NIBSS, explained that the domestic card scheme would reduce the operating costs of cards in the country for both the issuers and users.

“The card would be optimised for local content solely for the Nigerian market and support micropayment and credit, e-government, identity management, transportation, health and agriculture regarding payment”, Owoh added.