Nigeria became the latest country – and the first African nation – to issue its own cryptocurrency on Monday after the country’s central bank launched the eNaira.
At a press conference, President Muhammadu Buhari described the new currency as one that will “serve as the support for every electronic payment in Nigeria.”
As of 4pm EDT, the eNaira wallet had more than 5,000 downloads, according to a report from Vanguard.
'Not just another CBDC'
eNaira is described as “not just another central bank digital currency” (CBDC), according to the asset’s official website. Instead, it is “a people-oriented digital currency leveraging technology to connect individuals and businesses for easy trading and financial inclusion,” according to the website.
The asset was developed in partnership with fintech company Bitt, which also helped develop the Easter Caribbean Central Bank’s CBDC.
Bitt CEO Brian Popelka said he is proud his Barbados-based company helped Nigeria launch the digital currency in “record time.”
“Today's launch is an exceptional achievement for both the CBN and Bitt teams. We look forward to continued partnership on this CBDC deployment journey and to provide additional features to expand eNaira's value to all Nigerians,” Popelka said in a press release.
Nigeria’s central bank governor Godwin Emefiele said during the press conference that more than 500 million eNaira ($1.21m) have already been minted.
It was originally scheduled to launch on 1 October but was delayed because of Nigerian Independence Day.
The adoption of the eNaira is an about face for Nigeria’s government, which outlawed cryptocurrencies in February. Now the currency is in circulation, eNaira’s website claims it will be “a trusted ally to the numerous customers we will serve and our roots continue to be firmly grounded in them.”
More than 81 countries are looking to adopt a similar digital currency, according to eNaira’s website. Some examples include China, the Bahamas, and the European Union.
Last month, El Salvador unveiled a legal cryptocurrency tender. However, the rollout was shaky due to technical difficulties with the country’s wallet and it has since been mired in regulatory action.
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