Nigerian central bank plans October 2021 digital currency pilot
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced it will launch the pilot phase of its new digital currency in October 2021.
Rakiya Mohammed, chief information security officer at CBN, says the central bank has worked on the concept of a digital currency since 2017.
The project, labelled “Giant”, runs on Hyperledger’s Fabric blockchain. Mohammed added in a webinar presenting the project that a proof of concept could be conducted before 2022.
CBN believes the launch of its new digital currency would allow growth in cross-border trade, as well as improve payment efficiency in the interior.
Its new currency will join other African digital assets, including South Africa’s digital Rand and Ghana’s e-cedi.
In February, the central bank called on banks across Nigeria to cease servicing or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchanges.
Failure to comply, it warned, could see banks hit with strict sanctions. The regulator also pointed to China, which has banned crypto exchanges in favour of a central bank-backed digital currency.
According to a Statista report published last August, almost a third of Nigerians use or own cryptocurrency.
In the first quarter of 2020, Nigeria saw an increase of 210.6% in 18 to 24-year-old crypto users, per a Coinmarketcap report.